CLACKAMAS -- The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office was searching Monday for a man who promised customers an evening with soap opera stars but scammed them instead.

Deputy Angela Brandenburg, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said the man gave the name Larry Stevenson to the Monarch Hotel & Conference Center, where the event was to be held Saturday. The man said he represented Fundraising Services International and that the money was going to the Soap Opera AIDS Foundation, Brandenburg said.


He was last seen driving away in a white Ford Focus with California license plates and a female passenger, she said.

About 10 people showed up Saturday for what was billed as a chance to meet soap opera celebrities Susan Lucci, Erika Slezak and Eric Braeden.

But after paying $49 and waiting for hours, fans realized they had been ripped off.

"We had no stars, but we had our own little soap opera going," said Kathie McBride, 57, of Oregon City and a fan of "The Young and The Restless."

The drama began when a quarter-page ad appeared in the Saturday edition of The Oregonian.

Fans were promised autographs and pictures with the stars, an invitation to a private party with the actors and a five-year subscription to Soap Opera Weekly. The ad specified that no credit cards would be accepted and misspelled three of the actors' names.

"This appears to be a major scam," said Lynn Leahey, editorial director of Soap Opera Weekly, a national magazine based in New York. "I can't imagine how you would be able to get those people together, unless it is at the Emmy's."

Took money at the door

McBride arrived at the hotel shortly after 5 p.m. to find two men collecting cash for the event.

One of the men with a ponytail told the fans that the stars had been delayed traveling from Canada because Interstate 5 had been shut down, she said.

About 7 p.m., the ponytailed man came into the conference room and told the fans that the stars had arrived, she said.

"I was absolutely stunned and, in a way, furious because I was so disappointed," said Kitty Mettler, 74, of Portland, who used her Social Security money to pay for admission as a birthday treat for herself.

The fans were not the only one whose money was stolen.

"We were scammed, too. We were paid with a bad check," said Patrick F. Stickel, president of Oregonian Publishing Co. "This is not the first time we have been scammed. But sometimes you get beat."


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