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Editorial: Con man has skills that all of us can envy

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Everyone knows at least one con man. Maybe it's a relative who wants you to invest in a sure-fire business proposition. Maybe it's a smooth-talking salesperson. Or maybe it's someone who, for reasons that aren't immediately clear, just likes to bamboozle the rest of us.

Consider the success of William Clark from tiny Tallapoosa, Mo., in southwestern New Madrid County. He showed up at the scene of the recent interstate bridge collapse in Oklahoma, passing himself off as an Army captain and taking control of rescue operations -- even being interviewed on TV about the progress of attempts to locate survivors.

The Oklahoma incident apparently wasn't Clark's first con job.

Almost 10 years ago he talked a Cape Girardeau woman into taking a personal check for the car she was selling. The check was bogus, and Clark eventually spent time in prison. The woman never got her car back.

What's interesting about this 29-year-old man, who was arrested a few days ago in Canada, is what he might have accomplished if he had used his wits and charm on legitimate enterprises. He clearly has abilities that are coveted by many professions -- including Army officers.


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