Man charged with duping 2 victims out of $40,000 He hounded pair for cash using many excuses

December 13, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The alleged scheme started more than seven months ago when a man appeared on a doorstep of a city house selling chocolate mints. It seemed to end Wednesday, with two people out a total of $40,000 and police making an arrest.

A 35-year-old suspect posted bail Wednesday night.

One of the victims, a Northwest Baltimore woman, said the man called her yesterday seeking more money.

"I feel so stupid because we gave so much money," the woman said, referring to herself and an 86-year-old retired Roland Park doctor who police said were duped into giving a man $20,000 each. "We were trying to be kind and help this young man, and we were very much taken advantage of."

Police charged Walter David Harmon, who has no fixed address, with theft by deception.

They were alerted to the case by a supervisor at Signet Bank who apparently heard the story from the doctor and notified authorities.

The woman, a college professor who consented to an interview on the condition that her name not be used, said the man repeatedly has promised to return the money he allegedly borrowed, but has never followed through.

She said she met the man several months ago when he showed up at her front door selling $6 boxes of chocolate mints.

She bought the candy, she said, but the man kept returning, each time with a different story about why he needed money.

At times, he came in a taxi with an outstanding bill of more than $100.

A police report says the suspect told the doctor that his children needed money for college, that he was on kidney dialysis and that his car had been impounded.

The police report says the doctor gave the man certified checks to be cashed at a local Signet Bank.

On Wednesday, the report says, Dana Steinbrook, a bank supervisor, became suspicious and called police.

The woman said the man called her yesterday.

"The young man is after us for more money," she said. "He is a very intelligent, charming young man. He is very persistent. He will not leave until you give him money."

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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