Deadbeat dad pops up again in Wisconsin
WAUKESHA- Scott Obst at one point owed more than $100,000 in back child support. He is up to date now but TODAY'S TMJ4's I-Team investigation also caught him doing something else that maybe helping him pay those bills.
In his prime Scott Obst wasn't a bad poker player. He won $15,000 in 2006 one night at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
In 2003, the court determined Obst was pulling in $37,000 a month, living in style - right off the Vegas strip. But he wasn't paying his child support.
That's when Newsradio 620 WTMJ's John Mercure caught up with him in Vegas.
John Mercure: "If you paid why are you running away? You make money you are a pro poker player and you aren't paying your child support".
Scott Obst may have run from TODAY'S TMJ4's camera's in Las Vegas when we busted him a few years back. He went back to Wisconsin, started paying his child support and was put on probation, but the I-Team caught back up with him a few years later and the story takes us back to Wisconsin.
"We think this is a big scam - it could have been going on for a long time period," said Ran Hoth, the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.
Ran Hoth says the BBB started getting nearly a dozen complaints about a company called "Cutting Edge Tool" back in March of 2009.
The company claims to sell industrial cutting tools. In the past, the BBB discovered Obst had worked in the industry selling similar products.
The BBB says it tied Cutting Edge Tool to a fake invoice scam run by Obst.
Ran Hoth: "There are more invoices out there - we are very concerned." Rob Koebel: "Could you be talking 10's of thousands of dollars or even more?" Ran Hoth: "It could be a large dollar amount - it will depend upon how greedy the scammer is".
Tiffany Reid is one of the almost dozen that filed a complaint with the BBB.
"The person who was here previously had been paying them since 2009. I'm not sure how long they have been being paid," said Tiffany Reid.
Doing a Skype interview from Texas, Reid says she began taking a closer at these invoices her company had received from Cutting Edge Tool, wondering if they were getting what they paid for.
Rob Koebel: "They were for small amounts of a product you would use? Tiffany Reid: "Very. The invoices were roughly anywhere between a $150 - $280. Small amounts where it wouldn't catch your eye."
Reid says the bills arrived in the mail for years and were simply paid. Her company paid Cutting Edge Tool in October 2010 as well as April and July of 2011. All that time, she says, Cutting Edge Tool never shipped them any products.
Rob Koebel: "So this bill had been being paid since 2009 and you didn't get any diamond super abrasive products?"
Tiffany Reid: "No - how it works here is we don't see a product come here. The bill goes one place - the shipment goes another place and it looked legit".
Reid says they started calling the company that kept sending her bogus bills for two months straight -- using the phone number on the invoice. They got a busy signal, voicemail or were disconnected. That's when she filed a complaint with the BBB.
Reid says, "I hope that he is caught, I hope that he is stopped. I hate to see any type of scams happen to any company."
The billing address is for a private mail box here in Milwaukee. The BBB says the box is registered to Scott Obst.
Ran Hoth of the BBB told TODAY'S TMJ4's Rob Koebel, "Our investigation revealed that there is an individual who is purporting to use this business name who has been around for a very, very long time who has quite a background."
So the I-Team decided to stake it out, and they spent weeks waiting and watching to see if Obst would show up.
He did and I-Team caught him on tape picking up his mail from box number 160.
Rob Koebel: "Are you sure it is?
Photographer: "Yes, that's him. That's him"
The next time the I-Team spotted him picking up his mail - they confirmed the pattern. While clutching the bogus invoices the BBB says Obst sent to several different companies - it was time to ask him what was going on.
Rob Koebel: "Are you just ripping these people off? Come on Scott. Give us a second here".
Once again he took off without saying anything.
Rob Koebel: "Are these your invoices - what is there".
No answers from Obst this time. A frustrating dilemma for Reid.
Rob Koebel: "What do you want to see happen?"
Tiffany Reid: "I'd like to have our money back, definitely, and I think something needs to be done to him".
The I-Team is aware of a company in Menomonee Falls that sells the same types of products and has a very similar name to Cutting Edge Tool. However, it is not the same business and is not involved in any way in this scam.
And the I-Team has learned Scott Obst is behind bars at the Waukesha County jail.
The state probation department confirming to TODAY'S TMJ4 he was picked up on a probation violation related to a fraud investigation.
The I-Team will keep following this one.