Colorado Springs police are searching for a man thought to be responsible for a scam that resulted in a tens of thousands of dollars stolen out of Haiti.
Police say in July 2007, 25-year-old Matthew Santos Mantanona posted the sale of a large construction earth grader on a fraudulent Internet site. This Web site imitated a then-legitimate Canadian business website titled “Higher Ground Equipment Company”, which is no longer in business.
The victim of this crime, a small business person in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, talked with Mantanona over e-mail and on the phone. The victim decided to purchase the grader for $30,000, and did an electronic wire transfer of the funds. The equipment was never delivered, and the victim could not contact Mantanona. The victim soon realized he had been scammed and reported the theft to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Detectives say Mantanona received the money in his bank account, and also withdrew the money. A warrant was issued for Mantanona’s arrest in late 2009 but detectives have been unable to locate him.
Police say it is only a coincidence that this incident involved a Haitian business in 2007, is becoming public knowledge right after the Haiti earthquake. Detectives say “By Haitian standards, $30,000.00 was a life savings.”
Mantanona is described as a white male, 5’ - 7”, 217 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He is wanted for Felony Theft and Computer Crime, both class four felonies. It is believed that Mantanona has ties to the area, and is still in the Pikes Peak region.
If anyone has information about Mantanona or his whereabouts, they should contact the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719.444.7000, or they may remain anonymous and perhaps earn a cash reward by calling Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers at 719.634.STOP (7867).