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Suspected con artist wanted in three states


GERALD ROGERS
By BRIAN WALKER

A suspect in a series of quick-change scams in the area is wanted by police in at least three states and has allegedly been ripping people off for about 12 years.

Gerald Drexlar Rogers, 58, is described as friendly and grandfatherly. He also is allegedly running at least three cons, stealing vehicles and cash in the process.

The FBI and Daytona Beach Police Department have issued warrants for his arrest, said Rhoda Cook, national coordinator for Citizens United to Find Fugitives (CUFF). Their Web site, www.straightshooter.net, has tracked Rogers and dozens like him for more than two years.

Authorities also want to question Rogers about his companion, Jessica Evans, 22, of Lexington. Evans, who was last seen in May in St. Louis, was working as a waitress in a Lexington restaurant two years ago when Rogers, claiming to be a casting agent, convinced her to join him on the road to Hollywood, Cook said.

The Evans family sent money to Jessica and allowed the pair to use a credit card as they criss-crossed the country for a year and a half until she disappeared, Cook said.

Evans has been on the Kentucky missing persons list since this summer, according to the Kentucky State Patrol. Evans' family could not be reached for comment.

Since a story ran in The News-Enterprise on Friday, CUFF and other non-profit agencies that track known and suspected scam artists have sent information about Rogers' alleged crimes in Florida, California and Massachusetts. Rogers has a criminal record in New Mexico and did a stint in prison there for cons he pulled, authorities said.

He has swindled his way into several new cars throughout the years, authorities said.

Rogers has also allegedly pulled a "C.O.D." scam several times, Cook said. He will allegedly enter a store and claim to be the owner of a nearby shop. The con continues when Rogers claims he has locked himself out of his store and that he has a C.O.D. package that he must pay for. He asks to borrow some money for just a few minutes and then disappears, Cook said.

For several weeks, reports have been fielded by authorities from around the region regarding a scam artist who tricks cashiers into giving him money from their registers, Elizabethtown Police Department spokesman Terry Cox said.

The grift begins when the man asks for change for a large bill. He then begins a distraction technique and leaves the store with both his and the store's money.

Cox said that Rogers is a suspect in at least 10 cases in Elizabethtown.

The key to avoid being scammed lies in staying alert, said Scott Hargan, owner of the Kwik Shop BP in Elizabethtown.

"I've had guys try to confuse me as recently as last week," he said. "They try to trip you up by confusing you."

Hargan said that clerks should simply stop any transaction in which they feel someone is trying to fluster them on purpose or steal.

He said typically, scam artists are trying to avoid attention and will leave quickly without causing trouble if they believe they have been caught.

Rogers has gray hair and sometimes wears wire-rimmed glasses. He has been reported to change his facial hair to avoid detection, alternating between a clean shave, a goatee and a full beard. He was last seen driving a late model Chevrolet Tahoe, according to the KSP.

Brian Walker can be reached at 769-1200, Ext. 241, or e-mail him at bwalker@mail.the-ne.com.