I was at the Home Depot at Thornton Ave in Newark on Sunday, Feb 27, 2011 at around 12:45pm. While loading my van with the goods I bought, a man in a white Chevy Traverse stopped behind me and asked if I speak Italian. I said no and he started talking to me in broken english and italian (?) saying he's here for a presentation and he is a manager for a distributor of Armani and Versace products. He's in the 50's, medium-heavy built, thinning hair with thin beard and looked business-like in an expensive-looking suit and tie and showed me leather jackets and dress shirts and ties. He said he doesn't need them anymore and wants to give them to me for free.
When I heard "free" red flags in mind were raised and I knew it was a scam and told him that I don't wear suits or dress shirts and continued on with loading my stuff. He then pleaded me to listen to his story and told me (still in broken english and italian(?)), that he really needs to get rid of his demo clothing and showed me his Italian passport, a United Airlines boarding pass and his business card (Giuseppe M, Tailor Manager for milanocollection). He also showed me an Enterprise Rental Car agreement with an estimated rental charge of $353.40. I asked him what he wants to do because I still haven't figured what he's trying to tell me. He said he will give me all the leather jackets he has (five) and the dress shirts and ties which are worth thousands of dollars each if I could help him by giving him money to pay for his rental car because he lost all his money in the casino and he maxed out his credit cards. I told him that his offer is tempting and I really feel sorry for him and wanted to help him but I don't have that amount. I suggested he go to the parking lot of Newpark Mall a mile away where he can probably sell his goods easily. He said he didn't have time and his flight was at 5:00pm. He suggested maybe I can get money from the ATM and I told him I really don't have that money even in my bank account. I asked him why don't he pay with his credit card and he showed me his American Express credit cards and said they are all maxed-out.
He looked very desperate and his story seems to be real with all the documents (rental car agreement, passport, United Airlines boarding pass, credit cards). I'm a frequent traveler so I thought I know what rental car agreements look like and boarding passes. And I really felt sorry for him (I was in church in the morning and felt doing a good deed). He offered to give me the five jackets minus dress shirts for $200. I still said I don't have that amount. To cut the story short, I ended up withdrawing $120 from a nearby ATM and offered it in exchange for three of the leather jackets. I was thinking I'll just sell them in eBay or sell to someone I know just to get my money back. I just want to help this guy. He agreed and gave me the jackets after I handed him the $120. I even wished his luck in raising enough money to pay for his rental car so he can go home.
I went home feeling good that I helped a stranger in need. Besides, the jackets look good. They are in original-looking packaging and bags. The brand was "Emporio Milano Italy Worldwide" and all came with "Certificate of Authenticity". They felt and smell like genuine leather. I put them aside in the garage and did my home repair activities all day not thinking about it.
After dinner, I went to my computer and Googled "Emporio Milano Italy Worldwide" to find out how much these brands of leather jackets are really worth. I found several links to websites where people worldwide had reported the same story I went through - Dubai, Slovakia, Vienna, Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, etc. The story are all similar - Italian manager of a distributor of Armani/Versace products in town for a presentation, lost his money in the casino, need money for rental car or to buy stuff for wife and kids. Or doesn't want to pay taxes to bring the stuff back to Italy and wants
to get rid of them. People who got duped gave $1000, $400, 350euro, etc. After reading through it, I went to the garage and checked on the jackets. They still look real and look authentic. But then when I started scratching the material, it turns out they're fake leather. I can't even sell them online as I might get reported for selling fake goods.
I know my $120 is a small amount compared to the other victims but these group of Italian(?)
scammers need to be stopped. They are currently here in the Bay Area. If you happen to come across this guy or someone with this story, don't fall for it and immediately call the police.