PORTLAND, Ore. - David Lewis said he was just doing what he felt was the right thing to do, even though something inside him was telling him not to.
Lewis, 18, had just deposited his paycheck last Wednesday at his credit union's ATM machine in Northeast Portland and was sitting in his van when he was approached by an "intimidating" man and woman who had a young child in tow.
They said their ATM card was not working and they needed to deposit a $500 check and withdraw cash to buy food. Could he deposit the check in his account and give them cash?
Despite his misgivings, he decided to do it. "As I handed [the money] to her, I said 'I'm losing all that.'"
Lewis was right. And it was all the money he had, money he had been saving for college, money that he received from the sale of silver coins given to him by his aunt. He was also hit with a $10 overdraft fee.
Lewis recounted that the young girl said "'I'm scared, mom, I'm scared.' And I just felt really bad... I didn't know if they were going to eat that night, so if I cash this check, maybe they would feed their daughter? Maybe it would feed them?"
Lewis said he felt guilt-tripped into handing over the cash.
"I just wanted to be a good person," he said. "In the moment, I was just so nervous."
But police said David did one thing that may help track down the couple with the child: He made the woman deposit the check in full view of the ATM's camera, giving investigators a good look at one of the people who made off with his savings.
"I'm not going to fall for something like that again. I learned my lesson," Lewis said. He will have to work about 55 hours at his part-time job to make up the loss.
Investigators are reviewing security video from the credit union and taking a close look at the check that was deposited to see if the incident involving Lewis is tied to similar incidents in the area.