Special Report: How a local dealership helped catch an accused con man

A nationwide manhunt ended in Naperville thanks to quick thinking folks at a car dealership.

“You gotta understand - with John, he tells so many lies, and let me tell you, he is very convincing. Very convincing,” said Matt Fischer.

Fischer is an actor who found himself in the real-life plot to a crime movie. Fischer needed a lawyer and a man named John Ryan fit the bill.

“He popped up. And he had an office in the Hancock,” Fischer said. “I checked him out, he had a good Yelp review.”

“I gave him $500 bucks, and I went over to the Hancock, and he had receptionists, he had a fairly large office,” he added.

Fourteen-hundred miles away in Miami, Milly Santana also worked with Ryan on an insurance claim.

“I signed a retainer contract with him. I paid him $1,000 dollars up front,” Santana said.

The problem is, Ryan is not a licensed lawyer and in both these cases, he took the money and ran.

Ryan is also not a candidate for US Senate, or a bank executive, or CEO of a moving company. These are all jobs he has claimed to have.

“He's very good at getting people to believe what he's selling,” said Deerfield Police Sergeant Rick Bernas.

Bernas says his investigation started when Ryan skipped out on a hotel stay.

“We first got a call for an occupant of our hotel that failed to pay their bill,” Bernas said.

But even though Bernas tracked him down, Ryan was back on the street after getting probation. Since then, he has been on the run.

Then came the big break, and it came from a Mercedes Benz dealership in Naperville.

An employee became suspicious when Ryan tried to buy a high-end car in cash and when the dealership Google searched Ryan, they found arrest after arrest after arrest -- prompting them to call police.

“We were somewhat surprised when we got a call from a local police department here that they actually had him in custody,” Bernas said.

“It's just remarkably stupid. It's hilarious,” Fischer said.

Ryan is now being held at the Lake County Jail on a $1.2 million bond. He is facing charges including fugitive from justice and theft from local hotels.

“I'm thankful that he's behind bars because if he's not, there will be more victims wherever he goes,” Bernas said.

Bernas, and victims like Fischer, hope he stays behind bars for a very, very long time.

“I'm never letting him get away with this ever,” Fischer said. “You will never do this to someone again.”

The public defender's office will not comment on pending cases like Ryan’s. He is set to appear in court next week.