Time wounds all heels. Even Michael B. Woodward.
A decade ago, WW twice named Vancouver, Wash., insurance salesman Woodward our Rogue of the Week for targeting octogenarians with scams.
He worked both sides of the Columbia River from 2002 to 2004 with a signature ploy. He sold "prepaid home service agreements,” with the elderly paying him thousands up front to guarantee he’d provide cleaning, cooking and bathing if their health failed.
Those agreements fell outside the regulatory scope of the Oregon Insurance Division—which was good news for Woodward, since the regulators had pulled his license for "a pattern of false representation, manipulation, and dishonesty."
Here's how Woodward worked, as described by the Rogue desk in 2004:
Thus freed from the scrutiny of regulators, Woodward returned to his favorite prey: little old ladies. Take the case of Nancy Jones, 86, of King City, Ore. In August, Woodward rolled up into her driveway in a swank Mercedes. "He was well-groomed, well-spoken, drove a brand-new car," she told WW. "I would have trusted him to the end of the world."
Jones told WW that Woodward called her, explained that his company had taken over her old insurance policy, and he wanted to stop by and discuss how her coverage had changed. He seemed to know a lot about her--even down to the prescriptions she was taking. By the time he walked out the door, she had written him a check for $2,000.
Investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice, Woodward fled to Las Vegas, where he shilled the same deal to seniors across the West—but especially in southern California.
And that's where he finally got caught.
As WW reported in this week's Murmurs, a San Diego judge in August sentenced Woodward to 11 years in prison for bilking more than 400 people and ordered him to pay $3 million.
He confessed in June to scamming 238 elderly people in San Diego County. He had promised to provide in-home services from his company—but he and his wife Melissa were the only employees, and when his victims tried to collect, he didn't call them back.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the local district attorney’s office had seized Woodward’s property—including an art collection and a home on a golf course—to pay back victims, all of whom are over 80 years old.
"Authorities said Michael and Melissa Woodward ran their scam for nearly 10 years across six states," wrote the Union-Tribune, "targeting seniors while amassing a $6 million fortune that they spent on homes, art, cars, jewelry and other luxuries."
One of those states? Oregon.
We send Woodward off to the clink with the words of Carol Husted of Lebanon, Ore., who was 82 years old in 2002, when she received just two weeks of in-home services after her husband went to the hospital with liver cancer. She described Woodward succinctly.
"I think he's a stinker," Husted said.