Business managers beware. Confidence man "Mark Stein" – certainly not his real name – is still trying to perpetrate his convoluted fraud.
It has become a familiar ploy and has been going on for more than a month at Mayfair Mall and elsewhere. It rarely succeeds, but in at least a few instances, managers of chain restaurants have been duped into turning over cash to a con man pretending to be a corporate officer.
The scheme was tried again in Wauwatosa over the weekend. At 3:19 p.m. Saturday, a manager of Qdoba Mexican Grill, 418 N. Mayfair Rd., reported that he had overheard one of his workers engaged in a suspicious phone call and had taken over the call.
The man on the line identified himself as “Mark Stein from corporate,” although later in the call he slipped and said he was “Mike Stein.” Then came the usual backstory.
He told the manager a customer had left a wallet at the restaurant on May 10, and he had proof that an employee had taken $1,300 from it before it was returned to the owner. He said the customer had filed a complaint with Qdoba and the city attorney’s office. He wanted the manager to get $1,300 from the safe and bring it to an unspecified location.
The manager, who was usually assigned to a different Qdoba location, said he would have to check and would call back. He did call back, but the number the man had given him was not a working number.
The manager told police he was concerned because the same scam had been pulled on a Qdoba outlet in Menomonee Falls, and cash had in fact been turned over to the con artist.
Detectives recognized the scam as similar to the earlier incidents and advised the manager that if the man called again he should set up a drop and then call police to respond.
The scam has worked at least once before in Wauwatosa. On April 18, an employee of Trade Secret at Mayfair Mall reported she had been successfully duped. The caller, using the same story, had talked her into delivering the day's cash receipts, more than $400, to him at the McDonald's restaurant at West Wisconsin Avenue and North 25th Street.