The Con Man

by Arnold Nelson

     Many years ago. Shortly after I got out of the Air Force I was trying to make a place in this world for myself. There was a recession going on and I was having trouble finding work. I did land a job with a convenience store, but after about 6 months I quit. 60 hours a week, getting robbed and a supervisor that couldn't care less about me took their toll, so I quit.

     One of my sisters had started selling at swap meets and she got me started. One day a man walked up to me and started talking to me. Asking about me and what my hopes for the future was. So I told him I always wanted to have my own company and be my own boss. He started talking about a company they had where the photographer went to the peoples house and took pictures, then someone came back later with the proofs and sold the pictures.

     He said their company wanted to open a branch office and Long Beach the city I lived in would be great for it. I swallowed it hook,line and sinker. He knew he had me hooked. He invited me to their office in Anaheim to see how it worked. If I liked it he would help me open a branch office. So a few days later I visited their office. There was another young man and a young women working there. He introduced me to them. That evening I went with the lady as she took young teenagers out to canvas neighborhoods to get potential customers.

     After we got back the two of us were alone in the office. He asked me if I liked it. I said it look good. He then pulled out a checkbook and wrote a check for about $150 and asked me to cash it for him and bring him the cash the next day because he was low on cash. I looked at the checkbook and saw a lot of blank checks with signatures already on it. I remember thinking that is not a very good way to do business I would never do that.

     I wanted to please him. So I took the check and brought him the cash the next day. After that he told me to hire some young teens and start canvassing Long Beach. When I got enough potential customs he would come over with a camera man and take the pictures. So I did. A few weeks later they took the pictures.

     Then checks started bouncing. It didn't bother me very much because it was not my account. He came up to me and said they will have to close the Anaheim office and wanted me to find one in Long Beach for us. by that time he had me so confused I would of done almost anything to make him happy, but nothing ever made him happy. I gave him all the money I had. He wanted me to borrow more I tried but couldn't get any more. Finally one day I sold some stuff and gave him that money. He still kept asking for more.

     His big thing was poker. He loved the poker halls in Gardena. Every night he was over there Gambling. He wanted me to sit and watch in case something happened to him so that I could run in and grab his chips before anyone else took them. I would get bored and go in and watch the TV in a other room a while. I would get tired and start to fall asleep and security would come in and wake me up.

      After a couple of weeks of this he said we going going to take a trip to Vegas. Of course we would use my car and I would buy all the gas. He also said his mother and son and daughter were going. I had never been to Vegas and this sounded great. So one Sunday after his mom got through selling at the swap meet we drove to Vegas. He went straight to the crap table ignoring his mother and kids completely. I follower because I didn't know what else to do. I didn't know what I was doing and lost most of my money.

      Then I went and found his mother playing keno. She told me how to do it and I tried and lost the rest of the money. Then I found the kids and spent the rest of the time with them until he was ready to go.

      I was so tired after being up almost 36 hours that I don't know how I drove home, but I made it. God was watching over me. I had only been asleep a about 4 hours when the landlord at the office called. She was mad about her check bouncing and was going to kick us out we had about 4 hours to get our stuff out of there. I called him and he said well get everything out of there and bring me the proofs and the checkbook. I was not happy with that so I went over there and got all my stuff out of there and left his. I did bring him the proofs and the checkbook, why? I don't know, but I did.

      A few days later one of my friends told me the police were looking for me. So I drove to his office and talked with him. I told him my story. He told me what had been going on the last few months that I didn't know about. He told me the man was a con man that they had been trying to catch for a long time. He has done the same scam many times.

     After I told my story he said that it was a good story and I should stick with it. Of course I would because everything I told him was the truth. I started selling at swap meets again. He came up to me one day and saw the money I had and asked when we could get together. I told him the police were after him. I never saw him after that. The worse part of the whole think was in the middle of the whole mess I got word my twins died. I could not even grieve for them at the time, I was too wrapped up in the con man. I finally did get to grieve sometime later and I shed a few tears

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