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Former con artist impersonator warns chapel audience of scams

Nov. 18, 1999

By KARA WILEY

Reporter

Thirty-seven seconds of death changed Chuck Whitlock's life forever. After an almost-fatal heart attack Whitlock gave up the business world he had made thousands of dollars in and became a con artist impersonator on 'Extra,' the tabloid television program.

Whitlock entertained Chapel-Forum audiences on Wednesday with his many experiences impersonating a valet parking attendant, a solicitor for imaginary causes and a repairman that succeeded in stealing several computers in an office building.

Whitlock, who now has a regular segment on 'Extra,' has appeared on the 'Oprah Winfrey Show,' warning people of the prevalence of con artists in society.

'How many of you have been ripped off in the last 48 hours?' Whitlock asked the audience. ' I would wager that you have all been ripped off.'

Whitlock warned the audiences that being cheated out of money happens all the time at gas stations, grocery stores and department stores. The price you see on the rack is not always the price you pay when you check out.

Gas stations often inflate prices at the pump to the unsuspecting customers and department stores fail to discount the sale items at the time of purchase, he said.

'I think it was very informative. It made me aware of the reality of life,' said Scott Garrison, a Lake Jackson sophomore.

Following his heart attack, Whitlock, in an effort to have a less stressful lifestyle, moved to Washington and began his writing career.

After writing various books about sales and marketing, Whitlock wanted to write a book with more of a mass media appeal. Remembering a childhood experience when his family was conned out of $45 led him to write his first book about con artists.

The book sparked interest in the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' which later filmed Whitlock performing scams to show how gullible American people are.

'I think he is a little sensationalist, but I am glad that there are people out there bringing problems like this to the public's attention,' said Jason Treat, a Beaumont junior.