The man who can't stop conning


Los Angeles - A man who appeared on television as a reformed con artist and wrote a book about fraud prevention was arrested on Friday for allegedly bilking an Iowa retiree out of $100 000, federal prosecutors said.

Steven Robert Comisar (38), who has been convicted twice of fraud and is on probation for his second offence, was charged with four counts each of mail and wire fraud, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

Mrozek said Comisar has appeared on the news programme Dateline NBC as reformed con artist Brett Champion, offering advice to viewers on how to avoid being defrauded.

Mrozek said Comisar, posing as "consumer watchdog Brett Champion," also published a book called "America's Guide to Fraud Prevention," which details a number of fraud schemes and instructs readers on how to avoid them.

The book is dedicated to US District Judge Manuel Real, who presided over Comisar's first trial and supervises his probation.

Mrozek said Comisar is accused of swindling $100 000 from a retired Iowa engineer by posing as "David Crane" of the "Beverly Hills Investment Group" and offering opportunities to profit from foreign casinos and a television sports quiz show starring former football great Joe Namath.

Comisar is accused of collecting $125 000 from his victim during 1997 and 1998. Prosecutors say he returned $25 000 when questions were raised but spent the remaining money.

Comisar was convicted in 1991 of a scheme that involved supposedly sure-fire bets on long-shot horses. In 1994, he was convicted of offering investments in phony oil wells. - Reuters


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