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Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 12:51am
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — Police are on the lookout for a suspected con artist accused of swindling several businesses out of money by claiming to be a Fort Bliss soldier, who owns an advertising company.
Las Cruces Police say 41 year-old Johnny Ray Mills called Sisbarro Buick-GMC car dealership in Las Cruces back in December, claiming to be "Major Powers" from Fort Bliss. He allegedly said the post wanted to open a car dealership and that he was sending a representative to "iron out the deal."
Police say the dealership met with a man who called himself "Johnny Ray," and gave him $35,000 for the dealership, only to later learn there was no "Major Powers" on post.
But according to the Better Business Bureau of El Paso, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The BBB says Mills has scammed many businesses out of tens of thousands of dollars by approaching them pretending to be a soldier from Fort Bliss with an advertising company. He allegedly promises to advertise businesses in a welcome packet to incoming soldiers on post.
"He was not authorized to advertise on base, and essentially he was not at all committing to his promises to any of the individuals, there were no packets being distributed," said Margo Lepe with the BBB of El Paso. "They're called con-artists for a reason... If they're going to do it once, it is likely that they may try attempting to do it again."
Local4News first reported about Mills back in June when a local vitamin shop owner, Matthew Malooly with Spartan Supplements, claimed Mills scammed him too, and even promised him a store location on Fort Bliss.
"I can only hope they catch him sooner than later, and punish him accordingly. We the victims want real justice," said Malooly in a statement he sent to NewsChannel 9.
Kara's Bridal Boutique & Planning also claims they were scammed by Mills. The business, who didn't want to appear on camera, also sent Local4News a statement saying, "He showed us his military ID as well as a sample welcome packet so we figured it was a legitimate service. It was only that one time and we never heard from him again."
Local4News called Mills on Wednesday afternoon using a phone number sent in by a viewer. He denied the allegations and asked us to contact his attorney. We left his attorney a message and haven't yet heard back.
Mills also said he is still operating an advertising business and claimed his business is legitimate.
Local4News checked Johnny Ray Mills' criminal record and he has faced numerous charges in the past, from theft to deceptive practice. Some of those charges were dropped.
Most recently, he's facing a forgery of financial instrument charge and his trial is set to begin Friday, February 28th, 2013.