Fake restaurateur scams thousands from small business, deputies say

A small business owner in Covington said she was scammed out of thousands of dollars by a man she thought was a customer trying to purchase equipment for his new restaurant. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying the man who used what turned out to be a fake ID to do it. 

"I just don’t want anyone else to be a victim from this man," South East Restaurant and Supermarket Equipment Sales owner Donna Herndon said. 

She said she was excited when a man, going by the name Bryce Milsap, came to her business on May 27 to purchase equipment for a restaurant he said was opening in Norcross called Taste the Soul.

"He just seemed so comfortable with all of it and talking about what his layout would be and his menu," Herndon recalled. 

She said the man who was seen in surveillance video shopped with her employees for hours.

"He did not have enough credit on one card, so he wanted to use both. He asked Nancy to make him two separate invoices. We did. She got a copy of his license (and) the credit cards. They went through just fine," Herndon explained.

Just a few days later, she said she was notified the transactions were flagged as fraudulent, and when she and her staff tried to reach out to the man, he played it cool.

"He answered, he talked to Nancy for a moment and said, ‘There must be a problem…let me call my bank," and hung up. When he didn’t call back, she tried to call him…he had blocked her number," Herndon said.

FOX 5 called the number listed on the invoice but the man who answered said he didn’t know a Bryce Milsap and hung up. Additional calls, texts and emails were not returned. After Herndon said she called the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to file a report, an investigator ran the license and confirmed it was a fake.

"He said they’re seeing that on a regular basis now that in Decatur or around Atlanta, you can have a false license made really cheap like $20-$25," she said.

Herndon said she later found out she was one of two small businesses in Covington who’d been hit by the fraudster.

"It hurts that’s roughly $4,000 out of my bank account that I can’t get back," she said. 

She’s now warning other small businesses to be on the lookout for the man in these surveillance stills, whose true identity is unknown.

If you have any information that can help authorities in Newton County find this man you’re asked to call the sheriff’s office at 678-625-1412.