Of the dozens of interesting stories we've covered on this blog over the years, one of our favorites is the "Welches" con man. This is a fellow named David -- I think it's David Wilson -- who stops people on the street in Portland and dupes them into giving him cash with sob stories about how his truck has been stolen (or he's run out of gas) and he needs car fare back to Welches. David used to live in Welches, and so he's ready with the details in case anybody asks questions. But it's all a fraud. He's more or less a street guy now, with personal problems, and giving him money just makes those worse.
We wrote about him a couple of summers ago, in a series of posts that merited a category of its own, after we foolishly fell for his con. As a result, he was featured on KGW News, and Margie Boule of the O wrote him up a couple of times. We created the warning poster you see over on the right and ran it on this blog for quite a while. But then we got tired of looking at him, and we took it down -- exactly two years ago yesterday.
Fast forward to today, when lo and behold, Betsy Richter of OurPDX writes about her recent encounter with David, on familiar turf, NE Grand. Same old con, but Betsy called him by his name and let him know that he wasn't fooling anyone in that party. And so it was on his next prospective victim.
No one in local government is willing to do a thing to get this cockroach off the streets and out of the faces of the unsuspecting, even though he is committing crimes that in the aggregate, swindle people out of thousands of dollars. And so he's doubtlessly getting by on what he can defraud. He's been doing it for at least six years.
He's still out there -- no doubt working outside the bars tonight -- and so you may see him soon at an inner Portland site near you. He's also been reported in other parts of town, and even in Beaverton. If you're approached, take a cell phone photo of David and send it our way. We understand that he's shaved off some of his facial hair, and it would be nice to have the updated look on file.
Call him by his name. Tell him he should get himself off the streets and get a real life before it's too late. Waste his time. But whatever you do, don't give him any money.
For our part, reluctantly, we'll have to get the warning poster back up in our left sidebar. Maybe we'll take down our Portland Beavers attend-ometer, now that minor league baseball season is over. Merritt Paulson and David the Welches Con Man -- two peas from the same pod.
Another thought is that maybe we ought to try to get David designated a tourist attraction. Get him in every guidebook and travel brochure about Portland. Let him give his spiel to the tourists, and see if they'll throw a few bucks his way in gratitude for his dramatic performance -- but knowingly so.
Just leaving him out there to steal people's hard-earned money and then kill himself with it doesn't seem like the right answer. But alas, it's the Portland answer.