Con artist behind bars for scamming local businesses

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

ALTOONA, Wisc. (WEAU) -- A devious con artist wanted on fraud charges in more than one state is now behind Eau Claire County bars.

Altoona police say Sean Kean Davis of Florida was soliciting local businesses last week for $150 donations. He told the businesses the money was for a children's cancer walk.

Police say turns out it was all a hoax; Monday charges of theft by false representation were filed in Eau Claire County court.

Police say they know of at least five businesses, including Happy Hollow and Milwaukee Burger Company who were scammed or at least solicited for money by Davis. But police say they suspect there are even more victims out there, who haven't yet filed complaints.

Whiskey's Grill and Bar owner Brad Windeshausen is used to being asked for money for different benefits, but even he says he was impressed with Sean Davis' smooth style.

“Very smooth, knows what he was doing, sounded completely legit. Very charming individual, tan, very well dressed,” Windeshausen tells us.

Windeshausen says while Davis spun a tale about his brother that passed away from childhood cancer, he was very vague about details regarding which organization was putting on the childhood cancer run/walk. And that was why he called Altoona police.

“Just kind of led me to believe, just some of the things didn't add up, wanted to get this guy checked out,” Windeshausen says.

“It's troubling anytime somebody is a using a legitimate organization, especially a children's cancer research as a way to get money out of people, it’s pretty sad,” Altoona Police investigator Scott Kelley tells us.

Kelley says this type of fraud isn't common in the Chippewa Valley, but there are things to look out for.

“Just basic common sense, if somebody comes in and they don’t have any paperwork that supports the event, lots of time if there is an event there will be a brochure or some type of paperwork,” Kelley advises.

Unfortunately, Windeshausen says because of Davis local businesses may be more reluctant to give in the future.

“Their needs are not going to go away, but if there are people like this going around scamming businesses and individuals, sometimes it's going to make raising that money more difficult,” Windeshausen says.

Altoona Police say if this particular scam sounds familiar, you should report it to your local police department.

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