A man with a leather jacket and long blondish hair walked into Southern Oaks Golf Club and slapped down a check for about $3,500. He wanted to book a Saturday golf tournament and said he would bring in a busload of 80 or more people for a charity fundraiser.
The club reserved space for the event, but the check bounced and the bus never showed up, said Mark Billings, associate pro at Southern Oaks in Burleson.
"We definitely lost business because of that guy," Billings said.
That wasn't the only area golf club targeted by a man police have accused of felony theft. John Mark Moyers, 50, of Waxahachie is said to have engineered at least a dozen similar scams across Texas and Arkansas involving up to $70,000, according to the Parker County Sheriff's Department.
Moyers, who is in the Parker County Jail, declined requests for an interview, a jail official said Wednesday.
In Parker and surrounding areas, Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes Unit members said they had evidence that Moyers scammed local businesses out of thousands of dollars for fake golf tournaments, food drives and charity fundraisers. Police say he would solicit entry fees, donations, gift cards, door prizes and other valuables from area businesses but would skip town before the events were to take place. He kept the food donations for himself, they said.
At Southern Oaks, Moyers hung out and had a few of his friends play free rounds of golf while he conducted a raffle, Billings said. The golf club lost as much as $1,500 in revenue after it reserved the spots for Moyers.
At Canyon West Golf Club in Weatherford, Moyers told golf club owners that he was collecting canned food and cash to benefit area charities and food banks, a golf club employee said. He signed a contract to draw in golfers and booked five hours of golf on a Saturday afternoon. The tournament was set for late March.
But a few days before the tournament, the golf club got a call from a Little Rock man, the employee said. The man had bought a couple of player spots and a hole sponsorship for a tournament that Moyers promoted in Little Rock but that never took place, said the employee, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.
"He asked if we were having a tournament for this guy, and we said, 'Yes.' And he said: 'You're about to be scammed,'" the employee said.
Some golfers who had paid Moyers an entry fee for golfing that day showed up, and the club allowed them to participate for free, Canyon West officials said Monday.
Apparently, investigators were able to locate Moyers because he hadn't changed his phone number in his fliers and advertisements.
He would list his cellphone number in fliers distributed around the towns where he promoted tournaments. He did not answer calls, golf club officials said. Instead, they say, he responded to the phone messages of prospective donors and golfers, accepting their money and donations with promises that he would make arrangements with the golfing businesses.
The Arkansas man notified Canyon West employees after he Googled Moyers' cellphone number and noticed the event Moyers was holding at Canyon West, said Stan Mickle, general manager of Canyon West.
"He meets you and takes your cash and leaves the day before the tournament," Mickle said.
Moyers was said to have "worked" the area for 45 days, Mickle said. The Canyon West event was one of almost 20 fake tournaments that Moyers had organized, according to Mickle.
Mickle said it was a sad situation for golf patrons and local businesses.
"These things are very unfortunate because so many of us go in with good intentions to help the charity," Mickle said. "It's a shame that these people try to take advantage of the people who are the most vulnerable. You mention charity and mention food drive, and that's a soft spot in everybody's heart.
"You tie that with golf time, and everybody comes out and enjoys fellowship and helping a better cause."
About two years ago, Moyers was convicted of theft of property in Georgetown, according to the county clerk. The stolen property was believed to have been valued at $50 to $500, records show. Other information on the case wasn't available.
Source: Weatherford Telegram