August 20, 2014

Man arrested in Iowa may be linked to nationwide church scams

An Arizona man arrested in Cedar Rapids Monday may be a suspect in a series of scams involving churches around the country. Forty-nine-year-old Steven Brown of Kingman, Arizona has been charged with third degree theft for using a stolen credit card to check into a Cedar Rapids hotel.

Earlier Monday Cedar Rapids police issued a warning to churches in the area to be on the alert for a “potential scam” involving a man with this story: he would claim to be moving to Cedar Rapids and asking local churches for financial help with his hotel bill until he could cash a check. Police cited reports about a “serial…scam artist” who had approached congregations in other parts of the country.

Brown was convicted of a misdemeanor in connection to church scams in Georgia. Three churches in Louisiana have filed complaints against him. A church in Oklahoma didn’t give Brown money, but called police when he came calling. A posting on social media indicates Brown approached churches in Omaha with his story.

Cedar Rapids police say no one from a church in their area has reported having contact with Brown.