Police are warning the public that buying leather coats out of the trunk of a car might be a bad idea after a resident lost $600 in a scam that bears a striking resemblance to a fraud from last year.
The hapless victim was reportedly drawn into the con Saturday when a man approached him in the 1300-block of Main Street to ask for directions to the airport. In the course of the conversation, it came up that the suspect had a stack of high-end Italian leather jackets that he couldnt take back to Europe with him on the plane. The stranger claimed they were worth $1,000 each, but said he would sell them to the victim for $100 apiece. His alleged mark went for it, buying six of them.
When the victim got home and showed off his haul, a family member pointed out that the jackets, marked GA Milano, werent the real deal.
Theyre not high-end leather; theyre a kind of faux leather, said Cpl. Richard De Jong, a spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP. If its too good to be true, its too good to be true.
The victim reported the hoax to police, prompting the detachment to issue a warning to the public Monday.
The encounter is strikingly similar to an incident from March last in which a man approached a victim in the parking lot of the Save On Foods on Marine Drive claiming to be a representative for designers in Italy. He said he was looking to unload surplus samples before he returned to Europe, and that he would let the stack of $1,200 coats he had in his trunk go for $100 apiece. That victim was taken for $600.
An identical scam worked on someone else in the parking lot of the Marine Drive Thrifty Foods two days later, according to police.
De Jong acknowledged the similarities in the files, but said it was impossible to say whether they were the work of a single person.
It could be the same individual, or it could just be the same M.O., he said.
The suspect in Saturdays incident was described as well dressed, approximately 30 years old with a dark complexion, short dark hair and an Italian accent. The description of last years suspect was virtually identical, except that the man was said to be middle aged.
The encounter should serve as a reminder to the public to be wary when shopping somewhere other than an established retailer, said De Jong.
If youre not buying retail in a store if youre buying something off the Internet or on the street from someone youve never met its buyer beware, he said.
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