Crime & Courts

Richland sheriff’s department makes arrest in State Fair parking scam

A man was arrested for pretending to be a parking attendant near the South Carolina State Fair.

Richland County Sheriff’s Department said it arrested 58-year-old Michael Davenport for falsely selling parking spaces to people going to the State Fair. He was charged him with breach of trust and obtaining goods under false pretenses.

Thursday, a person going to the State Fair told a Richland deputy that Davenport was taking money in exchange for parking vehicles at a nearby business, a department statement said. The deputy surveilled Davenport and, just after 8 p.m., saw him take money.

Davenport was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center where he is currently jailed.

In the statement, Sheriff Leon said he reminds “all fairgoers to be aware of where they are parking. Legitimate parking lots will have a sign displaying the cost and a parking attendant in a vest. And as always, anyone who sees anything suspicious should report it to a deputy or fair official.”

The sheriff’s department said they were cracking down on parking scams during Gamecock football games at Williams-Brice Stadium, which is adjacent to the State Fair ground.

In the scams, people with no authority over a business or area guide people to park at that business or area and charge the motorist to park.

Several University of South Carolina fans were duped by a phony parking attendant and found that their vehicles were towed away during the Sept. 14 home game against Alabama, according to the department.

A number of the people who were towed contacted the sheriff’s department about the deception. The sheriff’s department, in partnership with USC, announced that they would be checking into reports of fake parking attendants and patrolling the areas around the stadium and fairgrounds to catch scammers.

Breach of trust is a misdemeanor or felony depending of the amount of money involved with the crime and can be punished by 30 days to ten years in prison and fines of $1,000 to $10,000. Obtaining goods under false pretenses carries similar penalties.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.