Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

Almost There


fishing-hooks1My sister, upon hearing the story, asked repeatedly, “Didn’t you know then?”  No, no and no. When a scam artist, especially one who has been operating for over 40 years plays you, you are hooked on his line. Nothing stands out to wave a red flag. I’m mixing metaphors but you get the picture.

I think I told the story already but I’ll recap it: To get ready for our move from West Virginia to Oregon we scheduled a trip a month before we expected to make the big move. We connected with a realtor in McMinnville, explaining we wanted to rent for a year to be sure we were in the right place before purchasing a house. We asked her to help make the appointments for the 10 or so properties I had pulled from Craigslist and that we would work with her in a year when we would buy something.  She assured us she would help.

But she never called any of the properties so we only got into the one that I had called directly. We met the owner there on a Sunday afternoon. We had gone to the church we expected to attend that morning , so we were dressed nicely. Another family with three small children also were at the house. Graham and I looked at each other, figuring we were the better risk; the rental would be ours.  And sure enough, he offered to get it ready for us in the month and I wrote him a check for first, last and security, about $2450.

About three weeks later Graham was knocked out of his chair when he read the online edition of the Portland newspaper that it had been a rental scam. Two friends met and each shared the exciting news that their adult kid was renting a house nearby…it was exciting until they shared the address. And then they went to the police.fraud-alert1

Okay, I’m not recapping, so I’ll shorten it now. Jerry was caught. His name was different than he had told us. He went to jail, posted bail. Court hearings were held bi-monthly to try to arrange full restitution to all victims. Each month his attorney reported some inability to follow through. The judge told him the next hearing it was put up the money or go to a jury trial. Jerry did not show up.  When he was apprehended he was put in jail with a bail too high to pay. And there he sat.

In the fall we were notified that there was real person involved with the name we had been given for the check and we appeared in court for that person’s plea bargain hearing. He is out on probation and is supposed to pay full restitution but golly gee, can’t get a job.  We’re not holding our breath.

So today was Jerry’s plea bargain hearing. He was facing a jury trial so a plea bargain was at least a known. A jury of his peers may have thrown a heavier book at him after all.

So, now Jerry is going to prison for 11 years. The $15,000 bond will be prorated to all the victims, as it is not the full amount that needs to be repaid.  The rest of the outstanding money will be supposedly  paid when Jerry gets out of prison (and gets a job hahahahaha). Of course, the other guy is supposed to pay restitution, so perhaps he will be able to since the amount he will be responsible for will be lower.light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel

So, that is the story…not quite finished. But at least almost there. I want to share a couple of impressions I got sitting in court listening to pleas and sentencing about six times in the past 15 months.

We have a lot of people in our society who want what they want when they want it. They don’t think about making a plan to achieve a goal. Hell, they probably make few if any long term goals. They don’t think about how their actions affect anyone else…until they get caught. I heard a lot of apologies, even from sociopathic Jerry. Yeah, he’s sorry. He’s sorry he got caught.

The judge today was a new person. I liked her. She talked loudly and clearly and simply. She told the person what she thought, good bad or indifferent. She told Jerry she didn’t believe he would ever learn anything but perhaps, in prison, his effort to scam people would be limited to others in prison. The prior judges had seemed to be way too lenient setting up an action plan after listening to the defendant’s sob story.

Many of these people seem to be in a revolving door, unable or unwilling to earn their living, make their way, follow simple rules.  The rules are not meant for them.

If you know anyone who is in this kind of rut and I am offending you, please explain your perspective. All I know is how this event affected us, and we were in the best financial position of all the victims and yet that loss of $2450 for all this time has stopped us from something important. Many of the others have still not recovered and have had to move in with family, thereby affecting more people.  uneven_scales_sm


Author: GoingPlaces Can-Do Zero Waste

I moved to McMinnville a few years ago and was impressed with its friendliness and the beauty of the surrounding countryside. I write several blogs. GoingPlacesLivingLife is my personal blog related to travel, food and just general thoughts. Can-Do Real Food tells about my business processing local produce from small farms and preserving it by canning and dehydrating. The concept of Zero Waste appeals to me because we can truly reduce what gets tossed into the landfill with very small changes in our lifestyle. Join us.

6 thoughts on “Almost There

  1. I’m so sorry to see you and Graham go through this, especially as it’s your first experience with the residents of McMinnville, Oregon.

    Having locked horns before with full-fledged sociopaths I can tell you any contact with them is a losing proposition. And that contact is by no means easy to avoid: it is estimated that 1 in 100 people are sociopaths, perhaps more (the phenomenon is under-reported and many fly under the radar of local law enforcement). So, don’t blame yourself. Sometimes being shrewd and doing your due diligence isn’t enough to thwart these creeps. They always on the prowl looking for their next mark.

    In today’s world where so many of our influential figures value callousness and brutality, having a conscience is seen as a sign of weakness and stupidity. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Feel blessed that your empathy allows you to feel a sense of shared humanity with others . . . . something these hollow, pathetic individuals will never experience. They are the real losers.

    • This experience has caused us to consider everyone we welcome into our lives more carefully, but I also suspect we could still be bamboozled again by a pro. I know when we went through the recent experience if helping Dan look for a car and were using Craigslist as a resource, we wanted to see the name on the registration when he was test driving. Sure enough, the first car had a different name that the person selling it. There were other reasons we didn’t want the car so we never asked about the ownership, but we are now, definitely, older and wiser.

      • This is the dark side of being sociable. You and Graham are rare: a truly sociable couple, as opposed to a couple of socializers who are anything but true. The gulf separating the two sensibilities is wide indeed – one enjoys the company of people on their own terms and understands the dance of give and take; the other is opportunistic and parasitic and constantly loitering in the background looking to take.

        No matter the outcome, we always come away from such battles a little bit more broken and battered with a chunk of our faith in humanity chewed away. For many, their reserves of trust have been eroded away to a nub long ago. As a result, they have closed themselves off from others and new experiences. In many ways they are dead to the world. In the context of your recent experience, it’s a tribute to your strength as a person that you can still be so outgoing and embrace life as you do.

        • I like people, Curt. Yes, there are some that are self-serving and rude and I can identify them and limit my exposure. This guy was in a class by himself and I can only hope I don’t run into another sociopath again. But generally, I think people, to the limit of their own ability, respond well to an effort at genuine honesty and acceptance. And my world is richer for it.

  2. Not sure I should have put a ‘like’ to this, but it certainly was a costly lesson.

    • So, of course, we are now sensitized and when someone enters our life we go through an analysis of our sense of their ethics…..and you know what? We can’t tell. If someone is an experienced scam artist their ability is probably better than my bullshit meter.

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