Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hallelujah! Alleged Scam Ma'am, Con Don collared

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HALLELUJAH!

And praise the law.

Especially the Winnipeg Police Service.

On Monday, police arrested the man and woman they allege are the notorious Scam Ma'am and Con Don.

Debra Lynn Loepp, 50, and Norman Earl Friesen were nabbed just more than 14 hours apart.

Friesen at 2 a.m., after uniformed officers pulled him over.

He was allegedly driving a stolen car.

Loepp was collared by commercial crime detectives who located her about 4:30 p.m. in front of an address on Bannatyne Avenue.

Interestingly, Friesen was the name commonly used by the fast-talking, slick-dressing Con Couple, who often passed themselves off as Bible Belt Christians in need of a little emergency cash.

Even more interestingly, Debbie Loepp is the name I supplied to police after Free Press readers repeatedly supplied it to me.

That information, and more, began pouring in after the June 14 initial column on the Con Couple.

It followed the public report about Scam Ma'am that came from an Osborne Village woman who was outraged by her preying on people's naturally trusting big hearts.

The freshly victimized 20-something woman recalled the Scam Ma'am's approach this way:

"She was crying hysterically and told me that her father had suffered a stroke and was in a hospital in Morden while she was stranded in Winnipeg after her car had run out of gas. This woman stared right into my eyes while shedding real tears and explained that she was a nurse who simply wanted to return home to see her father. Naturally, I felt sympathy for the poor woman and offered her some money for gas. I drove her to the nearest ATM and gave her $40. This woman took my contact information and promised to repay me, all the while giving me her heartfelt thanks."

Of course Scam Ma'am never did repay the loan.

Her victim explained in these words why she decided to write:

"I wanted to share my story so that nobody else will give this unethical woman another penny."

For the record, the woman accused of being the Scam Ma'am, Debbie Loepp, was never a nurse. But she did work in that setting. She was once a clerk and telephone operator at Victoria General Hospital.

Loepp now faces 19 counts of fraud that span a 19-month period from New Year's Day 2006 right up to this month. Judging by all the calls, letters and e-mails I've received, those charges represent a mere fraction of the "work" the Scam Ma'am has done over that time.

And even longer.

Ditto the Con Don.

Friesen was charged with two counts of fraud, a charge of driving suspended, another of theft under $5,000 -- which relates to the car stolen from a business on Pembina Highway -- and one more count of uttering threats.

That involves an incident just last week.

But both Loepp and Friesen also face prior charges stemming from a St. Malo church break-in last summer where a guitar was stolen.

There must be some mistake there, though.

The God-fearing Christian Con Couple would never steal from a church.

Anyway, a St. Malo resident who witnessed the break-in followed the suspects all the way to the city, where Winnipeg police intercepted and arrested Loepp and Friesen.

That was July 7, 2006.

They failed to appear in court last February and police have had a warrant out for their arrest ever since.

But police weren't the only ones looking for Debbie Loepp. A reader who knows Loepp's husband says he's been trying to find her too.

He wants a divorce.

Well, I can tell him where he can find her if he hurries.

The Winnipeg Remand Centre.

As I was saying...

Hallelujah!

And praise the law.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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