I-Team: Con Man Plays Game of Cat-and-Mouse - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Con Man Plays Game of Cat-and-Mouse

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Menlo Park Police officer Felicia Byars has been on Simon Gann's trail since 2010. Menlo Park Police officer Felicia Byars has been on Simon Gann's trail since 2010.
Simon Gann has been tracked to cities including Las Vegas, Portland, Phoenix and Seattle. Simon Gann has been tracked to cities including Las Vegas, Portland, Phoenix and Seattle.
Simon Gann's been called the Don Juan con man. Simon Gann's been called the Don Juan con man.

LAS VEGAS -- A con man with a checkered past is targeting victims in Las Vegas. It's a tale with all the makings of a blockbuster movie. But as the I-Team discovered, it's not clear yet how the story will end.

Simon Gann's been called the Don Juan con man. His identical twin brother, Jordan, is the Romeo robber. Between them, they've played doctors, MIT graduates, and most recently, Simon claimed to be a card counter. The I-Team met one woman who saw through Simon's scam and is working with law enforcement nationwide to put him back behind bars.

Halfway between San Francisco and San Jose, Menlo Park Police officer Felicia Byars plays out a real life "Catch Me If You Can." The Hollywood movie focused on the true story of a young con man. In this case, the convicted con man is Simon Gann.

"Yes Simon, he's my new friend," Byars said.

The relationship started in 2010. Byars arrested Gann after a woman he met at a coffee shop became suspicious of her new boyfriend. Although he claimed to be Saleem Dutante, she found a passport bearing his true name. A Google search then revealed a website exposing Gann and his identical twin brother Jordan, posted by another victim.

"He just had this air of 'I've used this a thousand times, everybody believes me, I'm going to pull one over on you and get away with it,'" Byars said.

She put Simon Gann behind bars for conning the woman out of nearly $2,000. The woman loaned him money to replace his supposedly stolen passport and other items. Gann served three months of a 16-month sentence and then jumped parole.

"I started having victims call me up," Byars said.

She tracked him to Phoenix, Portland, and then Seattle. That's where Byars sent her regards through the officers who arrested Gann at the airport. After another short stint in lock-up for the parole violation, Gann returned the favor, sending an email to Byars from Las Vegas.

"He wants to play the game," Byars said. "He wants to show of that he's out and free."

In Las Vegas, Gann was Ari Channis, a real-life "Rain Man," or so he told a downtown bartender.

"He's like, 'Go ahead, shuffle the cards.' I shuffled the cards. 'Count 10 in.' I showed him all the cards, I count 10 in. 'That's the ace of clubs;' it was the ace of clubs. He said. 'Pick a number,' I said 26, he said 'Count 26 in. Queen of diamonds,' and I'm like 'Oh my God, you're good,'" said "Samantha," an alleged victim who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

She said Channis offered to share his talents and promised to double her money at the black-jack table for a small fee.

"I don't know, I believed him," said another alleged victim, "Jennifer," who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Both women heard the same pitch at different bars on different nights. Both watched as Channis gambled with their money. He doubled the money, then tripled it.

"I said, 'Let me at least take the $250 back, you can play with the rest of it and then whatever you make from that, then we'll split it,'" "Jennifer" said. "He was like 'No, no, no, I'll just hang on to all of it. I'll be right back.'"

That was the last of Channis that "Jennifer" ever saw. In both cases, he slipped past both women. "Jennifer" lost $250 and "Samantha" lost $2,000.

"It hurt a lot, it still hurts," "Samantha" said.

While searching for Channis, "Jennifer" did a reverse look-up of his phone number. It came back registered to a Simon Gann. Like the victim in Menlo Park, "Jennifer" found the website and located "Samantha" through Facebook. Both found their way to Byars.

"I've had probably 30 victims contact me over the last year," Byars said.

Based on those talks, Byars believes Gann is still in Las Vegas.

"I'll play the game of cat-and-mouse as long as I need to," Byars said. "As long as he's out there, I'll keep going to get him."

Byars said Gann generally finds his victims in coffee shops, bars or at the airport. Metro Police located him at a casino in May and sent him back to Byars. Gann served another 30 days in California for the parole violation then allegedly scammed "Samantha" and "Jennifer" in Las Vegas shortly thereafter.

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