A Carbondale business owner is celebrating this week after he finally recovered money in a year-old fraud case that involved a bad check, links to an online gay escort service and a little bit of intrepid detective work.
Todd Darnstaedt, owner of Today’s Technology in Carbondale, said a man identifying himself as Adrian Wilson brought a Lincoln LS into the business in December 2014 and paid for more than $1,300 in repairs with what turned out to be a bad check.
When the check bounced, Wilson arranged to pay for the work with what turned out to be fraudulent credit card information. Darnstaedt was ready to count the $1,315.79 charge for the work a loss. A little internal detective work, however, turned up a curious lead.
“My employee Rob, who was quick-thinking, Googled [Miller’s] phone number, and I’m not kidding you, it went to a gay escort service,” Darnstaedt said. “But we came up with a photo.”
Darnstaedt contacted the Carbondale Police Department in January 2015, and the case went to Detective Brandon Weisenberger, who Darnstaedt said used VIN information from the vehicle and the phone number Wilson provided to expose him as Andre Mauldin, a 19-year-old SIU student from Chicago.
In June, Mauldin pleaded guilty to a felony charge of defrauding a financial institution and was sentenced to 24 months probation. He also was ordered to pay restitution.
Darnstaedt, who had become convinced he would never see the money for the work, was surprised to receive a check for the full amount Dec. 15. In his euphoria, Darnstaedt said he bought a supply of donuts from Cristaudo’s and took them to the police station.
“I’m a believer that God always provides,” Darnstaedt said. “I believe he had a hand in this.”
Police Chief Jeff Grubbs said he was pleased that the case was resolved.
“It’s a testament not only to the work Detective Weisenberger does for members of the community but that all of our police officers are truly out there doing to try to resolve the cases that come to our attention,” Grubbs said. “We appreciate Mr. Darnstaedt wanting to commend that work.”