Man accused of running parking scam at Cobo

A con man is apparently targeting unsuspecting visitors at Cobo. People pay him $20 to park, but when they return, their cars are gone! Now angry drivers are demanding answers from the city.

A couple from Shelby Township and a man from Monroe headed to downtown Detroit last weekend to take part in Autorama at Cobo Center. Many lots were full, but the car buffs say they were told to park their vehicles at Third and Congress.

"He was in Cobo attire. He said the roof is full, park over here and it will be 20 bucks. I had no reason to doubt him," said Mike Lenling.

"He charged me $20 to park on a city street. It doesn't make me look too smart does it," said Dr. Ron Semlow.

No parking is allowed on that city street, so when they came back they couldn't find their vehicles because they had been towed.

"$225 to get the car out and we're told we have a $45 parking ticket that blew off the vehicle," said Susan Semlow.

A COBO spokesperson said the incident did not happen on Cobo property and the individual who took the money is not a Cobo employee. The spokesperson also said they have identified a suspect who we will work with the Detroit Police Department  to apprehend and have also requested their assistance to patrol the area around Cobo to prevent this type of activity.

As the investigation into the incident continues, Detroit police have this warning:

"No one can authorize parking in unauthorized areas except police. A police officer would be in full uniform, generally with a marked scout car. if you're parked on the street the only parking process that we have is that you use the meters," said Detroit Police Assistant Chief James White.

Upset over what appeared to be a parking scam, these residents contacted Detroit's Mayor Mike Duggan.

"Crack down on lots on scammers," said Semlow.

In a statement to Fox 2, Mayor Mike Duggan's office says: "Because of the alleged criminal activity involved, the complaints were promptly forwarded to the Detroit police Department for investigation."  

But Lenling is hoping for much more. 

"I'm looking for reimbursement from city or Cobo," said Lenling.
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