Monday, September 22, 2014

Easy Money In Hard Times

The new iPhone is out and if you absolutely have to keep up with the latest, if you have a reputation to maintian, you will buy one.

Modern technology doesn't come cheap, but having some piece of it can be of great importance to a person who needs objects to be validated. You can't be someone if all your friends are showing off their new iPhone while last year's model is sitting in your pocket, no longer cutting edge. How can you get the old mojo back?

For Lennie and Arica Perry, getting the old mojo back required a very clever little scheme to bring in some easy money in these hard times.

Mr. Perry is employed, or should we say he was formerly employed, by the city of Chicago. A public sector job like that comes with perks that the average blue-collar worker can't imagine, with pensions and overtime and all the rest. You'd think it would be enough, with an annual salary of $70,000 on top of the benefits, but it wasn't. Mr. Perry just wasn't making enough in Streets and San, where he operated a tow truck.

He could look around and see firemen moonlighting, so why not a tow-truck driver? What a man does on his own time is his business, right?
Towing 'R Us

Except Mr. Perry mixed the personal with the professional and he was soon caught. It was, on the surface, a brilliant idea to go into business for himself towing cars. It was not so smart to a) use his city-issued truck to tow vehicles and b) to employ his wife in collecting fines from the owners of those vehicles.

When the city of Chicago tows your car, you have to pay well over $100 to get it back. Mr. Perry thought of all those hundreds going into the city coffers, to be wasted on corruption and the connected in their no-work positions. Where was his? Why was he busting his tail towing cars when he only got his regular salary and the city got all the profit?

He picked cars at random and moved them, then waited for the driver to return. Sitting in his official city tow truck, he was sure to have the driver ask if he had towed the car. Then it was just a matter of directing the driver to the car where his wife was waiting. For a reduced fee, he told his victims, paid to Mrs. Perry by the way, the driver could avoid the impound fee that would be due on top of the tow charge. A deal all around. People went for it because they thought they were making out and Mr. Perry was a good guy for helping them out.

The towing scam was working fairly well for a couple of months until Mr. Perry had the misfortune to pick a driver who called police immediately after she paid off Mrs. Perry and got her car back. She likely had a feeling that she hadn't been illegally parked after all, and even if the tow truck driver was using an official vehicle, this is Chicago. The driver gave the police enough information and they were able to locate Mrs. Perry, and from there it wasn't too hard to figure out who was driving the tow truck.

Mr. and Mrs. Perry have been arrested for their misguided attempt to boost their bottom lines. For Mr. Perry, it is unlikely that he will skate like he did the last time he was convicted of felony theft and was slapped on the wrist with a sentence of two years' probation.

So much for giving felons a second chance over at Streets and San. You'd think there would be a long line of law-abiding folks yearning to be employed and making a fat salary, people who would never think to pull off a scam to get even more. Was it really necessary to give felons jobs that paid so richly? Or was Mr. Perry more clouted than others?

If only Mr. and Mrs. Perry had chosen to live within their means, to be happy with an outdated iPhone or an old car or last year's wardrobe. They would not have their mugshots splashed across the Internet, and Mr. Perry would still have a job, which is saying something in this era of high unemployment.

Maybe someone looking for a first chance could submit an application?

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