East Portland cops nab alleged ‘prolific con man’

Find out why more than one citizen fell prey to the silver-tongued promises of a man police say swindled at least 11 victims with two different scams, in this exclusive interview. What can you learn from this? Read this article now …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Barbara Glass reviews some of the evidence she and her partner assembled, while tracking the activity of what they characterize as “a rather prolific ‘confidence man'”.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As a cop who investigates identity theft and scams at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct command center, Officer Barbara Glass has seen more than her share of swindles, scams, and rip-offs perpetrated by Eastside crooks.

“I started working on the case when an officer came to me on February 24,” Glass began. “A woman said that a man offered to ‘do her taxes’ in her home for just $40.”

The victim waited for her tax refund – but it never came, Glass said. “When the victim checked to see about her tax refund, she learned it was electronically transferred into an account with which she wasn’t familiar.”

Glass said that when a confidence artist (commonly abbreviated as “con man”) works a scam, they usually don’t stop until they’re caught. “We were concerned that he’s doing this to other people. Channel 12 put out a ‘Most Wanted’ alert. We started getting calls the next day.”

Working two scams
In addition to allegedly stealing tax refunds, the man, identified as 30-year-old Gary Waite, was reportedly working another scam.

“We found four victims who have appeared to have been defrauded by a ‘Federal Grant Program’ he told victims he was facilitating,” Glass told us.

It seems that Waite allegedly told victims he’d “cut their bills in half” using a “special program” by analyzing all of their bills, and asking victims to pay him half of the monthly total. “In cash, of course,” Glass said. “He said the grant funds would pay the rest of the bills.”

When the victims’ next invoices arrived, they showed no funds were applied to the balances, the officer said. When victims tried to call Waite, they found that one of his phone lines was disconnected, and that his other line went to voice mail. Their calls were never returned.

“Dupes of the ‘Grant Program’ scam weren’t dumb people,” reported Glass. “One of them had lost her job and had two mortgages. She did a ‘trial run’ with Waite with one bill. When it worked out, she said she gave Waite more money – and the next month, she realized she’d been taken.”

This alleged “confidence man”, 30-year-old Gary Waite, is said to have talked at least eleven people out of hard-earned cash they needed to survive.

“He is a confidence man?” Glass responded to our obvious question. “Absolutely. Some people do gain the trust and confidence of others, in order to swindle them.”

Falls to a pizza delivery driver
On March 3, a pizza deliver driver who had seen Waite where he once lived, heard of his “most wanted” status, Glass revealed. “She was delivering a pizza to a guy named ‘Gary’ – and was surprised to see his domestic partner answer the door. The driver told her boyfriend who ended up calling 9-1-1. Officers got him to come to the door, and arrested him.”

Glass was called in to interview Waite; and the suspect consented to a search of the room he rented. “We found computers and credit card account information – where some of the stolen money was allegedly deposited. Tax-preparation forms led us to additional tax victims.”

So far, Glass said, as she looked through a binder of evidence, it appears Waite “took” six victims with the tax return scam, and another five with the fake grant program. “We may find more victims.”

Too good to be true? Don’t believe it!
Officials suspect that Waite had some tax preparation training or background. “Victims said he was very convincing; they believed him. He had an answer for everything.”

We asked Glass what can be learned from this case.

“First, like the old saying, ‘If is seems too good to be true, it probably is’,” Glass responded. “Think about it. Will a reputable tax preparer really come to your home and do your taxes for $40? Is there really a federal grant program that will pay off half your bills?”

Secondly, she continued, trust your “gut”. “If there is a little voice in the back of your head – trust it. I’ve talked to so many people who have been offered to become a ‘mystery shopper’ or get millions of dollars from people in Nigeria. If you’re approached, call us. That’s what we’re here for.”

So far, Waite has been charged with one count of Theft in the First Degree. More charges could follow.

Anyone with information concerning this case or arrested subject should contact Officer Barbara Glass at (503) 823-0287.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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