A man accused of pulling numerous scams on area chain store outlets is in police custody, according to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office.
Patch is not identifying the suspect because his case is still under review and no charges have yet been filed in this case. But Wauwatosa police and sources at the district attorney's office confirmed that the man in custody is suspected in a long string of cons.
In January, reports began to come in to area police departments of a man preying on chain stores. Usually identifying himself on the phone as "Mark Stein" or sometimes "Mike Stern" and claiming to be a corporate officer, he would tell a clerk or manager that he was trying to resolve a claim against the company.
Although his story had slight variations, it typically sounded like this: A woman had visited the store in question recently and left a purse or wallet behind. Returning shortly to retrieve it, she found that all her cash was missing, and a store employee was suspected of having taken it. Often the claimed loss was as high as $1,500.
In order to reconcile the claim, the caller would say, the employee needed to bag up that amount of money, or as much as was on hand in the safe, and deliver it to a location in central Milwaukee. The usual drop point was a McDonald's restaurant at North 24th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue, where the employee was to meet a man and hand over the money.
According to a story in Wednesday's Journal Sentinel, the DA's office is reviewing at least eight instances in which store employees did just that. The story says that the suspect was arrested recently by Milwaukee police, but offers no details on the arrest.
Wauwatosa police have reported five unsuccessful attempts at the fraud this year and two cases in which the scam succeeded in duping store employees.
On April 18, an employee of at Mayfair Mall reported . 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 location.
On June 30, a 23-year-old clerk at pharmacy, 7520 W. Blue Mound Rd., was talked into to a man waiting at North 12th Street and West State Street.
There have been simliar cases throught the metro area.
Also in June, an employee at along Appleton Avenue in Menomonee Falls was victimized. The employee brought $1,300 in cash to the McDonald's in Milwaukee and paid the money to a runner who was part of the scam.
On May 3, night shift employees at the at 8645 S. Howell Ave. in Oak Creek , and not having that much on hand, gave up $400 more withdrawn from their own bank accounts.
The ruse was attempted at least once in Brookfield on March 28 when a caller tried to scam a restaurant out of $1,300. It was recognized as a fraud attempt.
On July 1, Greenfield police there to be on the lookout for the con.
Wauwatosa police also released a report from 2003 on an incident in which officers were alerted by the manager of an Open Pantry store during a matching fraud attempt and were able to arrest the accomplice by posing as duped store employees.
The suspect in custody has been convicted four times before of theft by false representation dating back to 2001. He also has numerous counts of bail jumping on his record.
In a July 14 report, WISN Channel 12 reporter Colleen Henry even went so far as to look the suspect up and interview him before his arrest. In that report, the suspect claims he was being set up and is not responsible for the frauds, blaming his past record for making him a suspect in scams perpetrated by others.