Fire investigators say a con-man wanted across the country for impersonating a fire inspector, has struck here in Austin.
Manuel Carbajal is a manager at Wholly Cow Burgers on Congress Avenue. He was on duty February 27, when a man whom firefighters have identified as Nicholas Carrion walked in.
Carbajal said Carrion told him he was there to do an annual fire inspection.
"He had all the paperwork. He knew all the right things to say," Carbajal said. "He must've done his homework because he mentioned the owners' names. I thought he was a legit guy."
Carrion is captured on surveillance video with a receipt book in hand checking out the store. He gives Carbajal a hand-written bill for $198 dollars. Carbajal gives him the cash and carrion continues "inspecting."
"He said he was going to run some tests on the hood vents and you're going to hear some weird noises, that's just us working, I assumed he was working on the outside, but that wasn't the case."
Several minutes later Carrion was gone.
"He faked the whole thing," Carbajal said.
Firefighters say Carbajal was the second victim of the day.
An hour prior, firefighters say carrion was captured on video pulling the same scam at Ruby Thai Kitchen in Barton Creek Mall.
"He charged them for an inspection for $270 dollars and then he said their system needed parts and he hit them for an additional $280, $290 dollars, so almost $600 dollars," Carbajal said.
Austin Fire Department Chief Investigator Aaron Woolverton has since learned that Carrion is wanted for the same fraud scheme in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Dallas, Texas.
In addition, FOX 7 found theft history for Carrion, who also goes by Michael Angelo Carrion in Illinois and Minnesota.
"We consider this guy to be a travelling gypsy con-man," Woolverton said. "When he hit the two places in Austin, we know the next day he was in San Antonio. He attempted to scam a restaurant there."
Woolverton believes there may be more victims here in the Austin area. Most likely all, he says, are small businesses.
"Other people have to work really hard. You know, other people just go in there. They cheat, they steal, they get away with it. No not very happy at all," Carbajal said.
If you have any information on carrion's whereabouts, or may have seen the vehicle he used to get to and from the crime scenes, call the fire inspector tip line at 512-974-0240.
Carrion uses the names fire boss, dragon fire, and city fire prevention on his receipts. Inspectors should always be in uniform and present I.D. Investigators say Carrion never does either one.
Firefighters have issued a warrant for Carrion's arrest. He has been charged with theft.