Cop Impersonator Sentenced For Scamming Hundreds


UPDATED: Friday August 8, 2014 7:32 PM

A man who claimed to be collecting donations for our country's wounded veterans pocketed the money for himself.

Now Joseph Steward is heading to prison for the crime.

Police arrested Stewart after two business owners became suspicious of his claims.

In October 2013, Steward claimed to be collecting money for the Wounded Warrior Project. He told his victims he was an undercover police officer and that's why he didn't wear a uniform or have a badge.

"Oh, yeah, I definitely asked him to show me his badge, said said Virgil McDaniel of MTK Detailing in Grove City. "He told me I could look online to find his badge number and all that. That right there threw a flag up for me, so I wasn't going to give him any money."

McDaniel didn't buy the man's story when he came by his auto detailing shop, but plenty of other people did. Posing as an undercover police officer, investigators believe Steward scammed more than 300 people out of thousands of dollars, until he tried that scam at MTK Detailing.

Next door, at the Fast Stop Drive Thru, Fady Abuayyash told the man he would donate $100 dollars, if he could produce the proper identification.

"And he got like frustrated, and he started screaming," Abuayyash said. "So I snapped pictures of him and I told him, I'm going to call the police as soon as I can."

Police arrested Steward, and Friday a judge sentenced him to three years in prison.

"It's hard to become a police officer, and we take a lot of pride in becoming a police officer, so whenever somebody does this, we take it real personal," said Columbus Division of Police Sergeant Rich Weiner.

Columbus Police say you should always ask for identification from someone soliciting donations, and that person should be able to provide you with a receipt.

Instead, the wounded veterans who could have benefited from these donations will never see a dime.

"It's a disgrace," said Virgil McDaniel. "My father was a veteran, my grandfather was a veteran., so it's taken a lot from them. So, he got what he deserved."

Many of Joseph Steward's victims appeared in court Friday, where he was ordered to pay $1,500 dollars in restitution.

The victims agreed that money should be paid to the Wounded Warrior Project.

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