Sob story moves man to help - only he gets conned

PORTLAND, Ore. - At least four people who cashed checks for a 19-year-old man, trying to do him a favor, say they got stuck with a worthless piece of paper and are out hundreds of dollars in cash.

Adam Wallace was one of those alleged victims and was surprised he may not be the only one.

"I found out there were seven victims and that's the ones that talked to me," he said. "And some of them were his close friends - like closer than I was."

Wallace had reconnected with Paul Byun through the personal ads on Craigslist.

"And he had told me, he gave me the sob story - cuz I had hung out with him for a week - he gave me the sob story that his mom had died in October of ovarian cancer and that his father drained the bank account and went to Korea," Wallace said.

The two made a deal. Byun told Wallace he didn't have the right identification to cash a check so Wallace put it in his account and gave Byun back the same amount of cash. But two checks in two days bounced - about a thousand dollars' worth.

Wallace said Byun tried to pay him back with a third check.

"And I realized it was the same account. But by then he'd already disappeared," Wallace said. "So I posted on Craigslist in several categories to watch out for this guy. And I was getting hits from people saying, 'Oh yeah, I met him and then he wanted to meet up and wanted me to cash a check, too.' And I thought that was kind of weird. Other people said they already met up with him and cashed checks and the checks came back."

Police said the checks Byun was passing were actually stolen from Byun's grandfather.

Wallace decided to beat Byun at his own game. He arranged to meet him Tuesday night and tipped police. They arrested Byun.

"He was on the ground in handcuffs and said, 'Don't worry, I'll pay you back, I'll pay you back, I'm gonna do it tomorrow.' I said, 'Every day is tomorrow. And tomorrow never comes.'"

Byun has been charged with forgery and ID theft. He was released from jail Wednesday morning. KATU News tried to make contact with him through the number he used on Craigslist. While he'd been pretty quick to respond to other people, so far he hasn't responded to KATU News.

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