'If you see him, don't help him': Suspect scamming drivers in Portland area

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A scam artist in Portland is putting on quite a show, and city officials are warning motorists to steer clear.

Residents say the scam artist, a man, has been standing in the middle of the road and tricking drivers into giving him money, or sometimes, just a ride.

The man waves at drivers frantically, they say, asking them to stop and telling them that its an emergency.

FOX 12 caught up with several Portland residents who say they took the bait.

“This guy was flagging us down, waving his arms, Peter Knudsen, a resident who fell for the scam, says. "He had his cell phone flashlight out, he was yelling, seemed like he needed help."

Knudsen says he and a friend picked the man up Monday night on Southwest Broadway Drive.

“He says his daughter got in a car accident and she needed his help and he needed his keys so he could get his car so he could drive over,” Knudsen says.

Once the man got in the car, however, his story quickly changed, according to Knudsen. He said he needed a ride downtown, but after getting a call from his daughter, he said he needed to go somewhere else. Eventually, he asked Knudsen for money to catch a cab.

“As soon as he got in the car I knew something was up,” Knudsen says. 'He dialed it in."

Knudsen says the scammer has his “act” boiled down to a science.

But Knudsen isn’t the only person who pulled over. He says he posted a warning on social networking service Nextdoor and at least five people responded to his post and said they had had the same experience.

“It’s kind of an emotional pull," Knudsen says. "I’m sure that it's convinced a few people, you know he’s a nice guy he just needs help."

Knudsen and his friend ended up giving the scammer a ride, but they didn't give him any money. Knudsen says the man's sense of urgency faded quickly.

“Gave him a ride back up the hill, the guy got out and he kind of stumbled into the woods I guess,” Knudsen says.

He says the scammer is still out there and wants to send a warning to other residents about him.

"If you see him, don’t help him, take my word for it,” Knudsen says.

Knudsen says the man is tall, bald, middle-aged with a stocky build and is usually wearing khaki pants and a black polo shirt.

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