TAMPA — A man posing as a detective tried to scam a tree service out of a limousine ride and $20,000, police said Thursday.
Michael A. Bellamy, 21, of Tampa faces charges of impersonating a police officer during the commission of a felony, scheme to defraud, communications fraud and grand theft. He was being held Thursday afternoon on $10,00 bail at a Hillsborough County jail.
Bellamy this week contacted Barton's Tree Service of Tampa, saying he was a detective working with a special squad that had seized a large amount of tree-trimming equipment, authorities said. Bellamy offered to sell the equipment for $20,000, which was well below market value, police said.
But before he would make the sale, Bellamy tried to get the company to pay for a limousine while they were on the phone, said Janelle McGregor, a spokeswoman for Tampa police. Bellamy said that the limo was for police Chief Jane Castor to escort underprivileged children.
Barton's Tree Service reported the odd phone call to authorities.
Real detectives worked with the would-be victim and arranged a meeting with Bellamy to pay the $20,000. An undercover Tampa detective met Bellamy for the transaction, and police made the arrest Wednesday night without incident, they said.
Detectives said Bellamy admitted to the crime and also to similar schemes in the past.
"He admitted that he had scammed limo services out of several other companies before," McGregor said.
Police are asking that people who think they may have been victimized by a similar scam call Tampa police at (813) 231-6130.