STREETSBORO, Ohio (WJW)-- An ex-convict with a history of scamming businesses out of large amounts of cash and merchandise is the subject of an alert by police in Portage County.
Streetsboro police released surveillance video of Jason Nicholas James, 47, as they said he took $15,000 worth of equipment from a farm supply store and paid for the items with a check that was not worth the paper it was written on.
Streetsboro Police Lt. Patricia Wain told FOX 8, “Simply put, he's a con artist. He's very friendly. He is outgoing. He is happy to be talking to employees. He's smiling at them. In one hand he's handing them a bad check; in the other hand he's shaking their hand, and I think that's one of the worst kind of criminals.”
Ironically, a Streetsboro patrolman encountered Jason James outside the Family Farm and Home Store, after James loaded the dozens of pieces of equipment he took from the store into a pick-up truck and a trailer. The officer did not realize at the time that James was wanted, had written a bad check at the store and provided the clerk with a fake ID. "At the time, it just seemed like a very friendly happy customer, and he looks at you and he smiles with one hand and is committing a crime with the other," said Lt. Wain.
Investigators say Jason James has a long history of writing bad checks, theft and forgery in Cuyahoga, Portage, Stark and Summit counties.
He was also arrested in North Carolina in 2014, for his role in a Ponzi scheme, and was accused of defrauding one of the victims out of $300,000.
Streetsboro police are releasing video and photos of James in action, in the hope that other stores and employees will not be victimized by his slick tactics.
“They're businesses, they want to make their money and they want to sell things and they want to trust their customers, so he is preying on that trust and taking it away from people and I don't want to see that happen anymore,” said Lt. Wain.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jason Nicholas James is asked to call Streetsboro police at 330-626-4976.