Dozens of St. Louis area restaurants report serial scammer on loose

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – On Thursday, dozens of St. Louis area bars and restaurants were reporting a serial scammer on the loose.

Tom Halaska of Demun Oyster Bar said he’s warned the restaurant and bar community about a man who pretends to be a customer before resorting to his scamming tricks.

"He said that he left his wallet here on Friday night and that he's a pilot for United Airlines," Halaska said.

Halaska said that the restaurant checked for the supposed wallet but nothing turned up.

"Then he asked one of my staff members if he could buy a Corona, sign a $100 tip, and she would keep $35, he would get $65 of it,” he said.

Halaska said that the man promised flight vouchers in order to get cash from the bar.

"He had a card on him, but didn't have any ID or anything else on him," Halaska said. "We have a policy not to give cash back on tips."

Halaska said that the man then proceeded to leave contact information: writing down a name, a phone number, along with listing contents of what he claimed was in the wallet.

Halaska said that something didn't seem right, so he took it to social media.

"There's a Facebook group of restaurant professionals and someone posted in there and added to my feed, and as of now I have about 20 restaurants that this guy has hit since Friday night," Halaska said.

One of those many restaurants was Felix's Pizza Pub in Dogtown.

"Definitely a red flag immediately," said Michael Scott, restaurant manager. "And he proceeded to try and bribe us with Cardinals tickets."

As Scott explained, the man left a note like last time, except in this incident he used a different name and pretended to be a representative for the Cardinals.

Fox 2's Ayesha Khan called the number. She asked for a “Kim Russell,” the same name the scammer wrote on one of the notes. The man who answered the call said there was no one by that name and asked why his number was listed.

The man who answered, is also in the restaurant business but said that he hasn't come across the scammer.

"It's illegal for us to give cash back," he said. "We don't do that here. Our policy is pretty strict here."

The two restaurants Fox 2 spoke with said that neither of them fell for this scam.

The City of St. Louis Police Department told Fox 2 that they are aware of at least two of these incidents and are currently investigating.