June 22, 1995 in City

Close Shave For Victims Of New Hoax

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

It was one weird, wacky world outside the U.S. Postal Service’s annex on Trent Wednesday morning.

First, two Spokane television news crews show up to get the scoop on what they think is going to be a mass 7 a.m. walkout by postal workers.

Then 11 teenage boys with stars in their eyes arrive, looking for a moment of fame, some easy money and a bad haircut.

Trouble is, they’ve all been had.

This double hoax is the latest handiwork of a sick man who gets his jollies hoodwinking the media and gullible members of the public.

In recent months, he has called TV journalists claiming to be a former prison guard of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, a relative of an Oklahoma bombing survivor and a director casting parts for child actors.

No erroneous stories have been aired, but a lot of legwork has been expended checking out this nonsense.

The latest time-waster was the bogus postal strike. As an added bonus, the hoaxer victimized some teenagers who thought they could make a few bucks being bit players in a cancer commercial.

This guy’s some peach, huh?

For reasons unknown, this freak who needs a life selected me to observe his madness. He called late Tuesday afternoon, claiming to be a city employee too embarrassed to give a name.

Here’s the tale he told:

Five weeks ago, he shaved his head to land a $375-a-day part in a national cancer commercial being filmed at Sacred Heart Medical Center. He said Kay, his barber at Supercuts on 29th, had received a call from a talent agency and had passed along the opportunity to her customers.

The morning of the shoot, he waited for a bus ride to Sacred Heart with a group of similarly sheared victims.

The bus, of course, never arrived.

“It’s happening again,” the man told me. “You show up at 7 a.m. at the post office and you’ll see at least a dozen people who think they’re going to be in a commercial.”

I found out my caller is a shark - not a victim.

There is no Kay at Supercuts on 29th. Nobody there knew anything about any cancer commercials.

But the part about the impending scam was real.

Andrea at Supercuts in the Spokane Valley told me a man had called Tuesday who claimed to be casting the commercial at Sacred Heart.

He wanted a dozen teenagers, ages 14 to 21, who didn’t have facial hair and were willing to shave their heads to look like chemotherapy patients.

Unfortunately, Andrea swallowed the story. She passed the word to some young wannabe stars.

None of these kids was dumb enough to shave his head in advance, thank God.

Later in the day, however, three 18-year-olds did get scalped for nothing. The hoaxer called at least five hair salons trolling for suckers.

The youngsters I saw looked pretty cold and disappointed as they waited for the bus Wednesday morning.

“I took time off of my job for this,” says one angry 18-year-old.

“I was going to buy a car with the money,” adds another.

Even more troubling, one parent dropped off two 14-year-old boys. He left for work, stranding the kids in the sprawling, busy parking lot.

Andrea should have checked with Sacred Heart before raising anyone’s hopes about $375-a-day windfalls.

Kay Pederson did just that. She runs a hair design school on Division. The hoaxer tried to lure her into his scheme, but she smelled something foul and dialed the hospital.

No commercial. No kidding.

This kind of joke “is a disgrace to people who are battling cancer,” says Tom Sofio of Sacred Heart.

Sofio’s right.

This moron may know how to dial a telephone, but he doesn’t know squat about practical jokes. If he did, he’d know that using a deadly illness to con a bunch of kids is nobody’s idea of funny.

It’s just mean-spirited and vile.

, DataTimes


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