Scam artists hit Downtown

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September 12, 2005 // UPDATED 1:57 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Be on your guard for snatch or swindle operations in the Downtown area. Two separate schemes have been reported recently.

A Downtown worker who called the Journal said she has been the victim of two attempted robberies, in which two "middle-aged" men crowded her as she got on a Nicollet Mall bus while a third man grabbed her wallet. Although the man returned her wallet after she chased and confronted him, such a confrontation can be dangerous and is not recommended, Minneapolis Police Department Crime-Prevention Specialist Luther Krueger said. The victim was not harmed. The woman said the group includes both white and black males in their 30s. Meanwhile, Krueger warns that a well-known scam artist might have returned to Downtown. Descriptions match "literally dozens of reports" from 2001 to 2004, Krueger stated, in which a man giving the name "Marcus Johnson" or "Ben Harris" claims he has just arrived in town and had his car impounded with money in the glove compartment, so that he cannot retrieve the car. He asks for money, in some cases offering to return it later and giving bogus phone numbers. Krueger advised not to give the man money and -- in either incident -- call 911 or report it to a nearby security guard, if possible.