Swindler hits two Southwest businesses

Minneapolis police are asking Southwest businesspeople to keep a lookout for a man who allegedly swindled two businesses while pretending to be a maintenance contractor, seeking pay for work he never performed.

Police issued an alert in mid-June. They said that in two instances, a man entered businesses claiming to be a maintenance contractor who had been asked to replace or repair faulty fuses.

In both cases, the man faked telephone conversations with the business owner, tricking store employees into paying for the work out of the till.

"I would assume that he was targeting probably some younger employees," said Sheila Rawski, a Minneapolis Police crime-prevention specialist. She said in both cases, the man walked away with about $40.

The incidents happened at the Visionary eyewear store, 2906 1/2 Hennepin Ave. S., and at a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop, 3070 Excelsior Blvd.

There have been no further incidents and no arrests in the case, Rawski said.

Police describe the suspect as a black male, between 35 and 40 years old and about 6 feet tall. He has a tattoo on his right calf, police said.

Rawski cautioned business employees to never pay cash for services rendered, and to always check the credentials of anyone claiming they have done work for the business. Also, she said, always talk on the phone with a supervisor personally.