Scammer targets Mayfair retailers

April 27, 2011

A scam artist has been targeting retailers at Mayfair, and an employee at one business fell for his con.

According to Wauwatosa police reports:

Mall security alerted tenants April 19 that a man describing himself as Mark Stein was trying to dupe businesses out of money. At 7 p.m. the previous day he had called Trade Secret, a beauty supply shop, and asked for the manager by name.

The manager wasn't available, so the caller told the employee who answered that he was from the corporate office and was calling about a customer who had lost her wallet at the store. He said a wallet was turned in the prior week with $1,200 but the money was missing when the owner came to claim it. He went on to say surveillance footage showed an employee taking the money, and it needed to be replaced to avoid being sued by the rightful owner.

The man instructed her to gather all the money in the store, get in a taxi and meet a man described as the owner's fiancé at a McDonald's in Milwaukee. Because of the ongoing internal investigation, she was to tell no one of her activities.

She followed his directions and handed off more than $400 to a man. After returning to the store, the man called to tell her she did a good job and would be receiving a raise. If the store took in any more money that day, she was to deliver that, too, he added.

When she asked her manager about the wallet that had been turned in, she found out no such incident had happened and she had been scammed.

A second incident, this time at Things Remembered, never got to the point where a money drop was mentioned. But the caller did ask the employee to step into a bathroom, back office or hallway so he wouldn't be overheard discussing a sensitive matter. He didn't believe it was a coincidence that jewelry boxes valued at $120 were missing after the conversation.

Employees at the Rosetta Stone kiosk, Rocky Rococo and Spencer Gifts also reported receiving calls, but they suspected a con and hung up before any problems occurred. Brookfield Square also reported similar calls to its businesses.


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