Reader Rant: “OB and Point Loma – Beware the Old Armani Leather Jacket Scam”

by on February 3, 2017 · 3 comments

in Culture, Life Events, Ocean Beach, Reader Rant

Reader Rant by Rick Dower

On Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 1st, I almost became the victim of an attempted scam which I will call the ‘old Armani leather jacket con’.

I was walking my dog across Pt. Loma Ave at Guizot St. just an hour before I wrote this up as a warning for OB Rag readers, and a guy in a nice white Jeep Grand Cherokee stops in the middle of the street, hails me in a heavy Italian accent. Needs directions to the airport.

He pulled onto Guizot, I gave “Antonio” directions, he profusely thanks me. In heavily accented English, he then tells me he is a designer for Giorgio Armani in Milan, was in San Diego for a big fashion show and is leaving in 2 hours for London for another show.

What-a size are you?” He is so grateful for my help he offers to give –give!– me 3 nice-looking “Armani” leather jackets he designed and brought to town for the show. He doesn’t want to take them on the upcoming flight because he will have to pay high duties on arrival in London. He doesn’t need them. He extols the virtues of these fine jackets, what high quality leather, so well-made, such lovely material, best leather in the world!!

In fact, do I have a wife? Take these other 3 as well for her. “She will really love them! All I ask is you don’t sell them on ebay, but keep for yourself and your wife.”

We chat a bit about the Italian fashion business and how cool it is to work for Armani. Then: “And, do you have a son? What size is he?” He pulls a 3rd bag from the back seat. “Oh, then, take these 2 jackets also for-a your son, he will be best-dressed teenage boy in school.”

I hesitate, a bit reluctant to proceed with my Italian visitor. ” No, no take all, I don’t need, I have plenty more.” He notes that each jacket sells for $900 to $1200 to, oh, $2500 each. “That’s about $9000 worth of Armani jackets,” he marvels. “My gift, we are friends now, you seem like a nice person!!”
OK, this is starting to feel a little. . . . weird. Should I believe my great good fortune?

But, wait, seems Antonio has a small problem . . .

“Antonio” relates this long, sad tale: his rental car bill is $1700, his Armani credit card is maxed out, he has no cash left after partying in San Diego, it is too late to call his company in Italy now and he has no way of getting cash to pay 22% duty (such an exact figure lends credence to his case) on the remaining jackets he is taking to the big fashion show in London tomorrow. Could I possibly help him out?? “You could do me big favor,” he says. How much cash do I have in my wallet?

I reply, I am broke. I have no cash on me. “So, I take you to your bank ATM, you get $1200, you pay me, I will wire you the money at Western Union tonight when my company opens in Milan, and you get to keep all these jackets worth much more for free!” Antonio is fairly begging me to help him out. He is getting a bit sweaty, even tearful. “I am in big fix if I can’t bring my other jackets to London. My company will no be happy!!”

I briefly –very briefly — considered this as a legitimate deal.Should I try to help this nicely dressed, friendly stranger? Is he on the level?

When I demure that I don’t have access to that kind of cash at the ATM either, Antonio gives me a sad, serious look. “Could you get $600? Maybe $500? Anything help!! Again, he asks exactly how much I have in my wallet? Could I count again? Maybe I can help him just a little………..”Look, I have wallet full of 500 Euros. I swap you for $600 dollars.

By now, after 10 minutes chatting with Antonio, I’m beginning to get the picture. It’s all scam, a con, a ripoff (but a very well performed one). I am the would-be mark. I get it.Finally. I tell Antonio firmly I can’t help him, I have to get home. Sorry dude. I resist the impulse to grab the bags of jackets and make a run for it and push back from the open Jeep window. He speeds off up Point Loma Ave.

When I get home, I google “Armani con.” Right away, up comes all the references to this particular con to unload phony crappy cheap leather jackets — along with exactly the same details as just occurred with me, right down to asking directions to the airport and claiming to need cash for the airport duties — going all the way back to 2004, in cities all over America. San Diego, join the crowd.

So much on my being gifted 9 new Armani leather jackets worth many thousands of dollars. So much for my great good luck.

Bummer.

But I guess my good luck, such as it is, was in walking away from this glib Italian stranger (If he even was Italian) instead of heading to the ATM.

I pass this little tale along fresh from the experience so readers of the OB Rag might be spared the temptation to indulge a little human greediness. I barely did myself. Antonio is still out there, cruising our streets, looking for his next mark. You have been warned.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Bearded OBcean February 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I saw this dude on Santa Monica down near the beach before the market on Wednesday. He was calling out to whoever might be within earshot from his car. I didn’t stick around, and I don’t think anyone else started chatting him up either.

Reply

Avatar Debbie February 3, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Photo? License number?

Who these days does not have a cell phone and can get directions from it or a GPS device?

Careful talking to strangers everyone…..

Reply

Avatar fstued February 4, 2017 at 6:23 pm

this is San Diego why do we need leather or faux leather jackets. Soons as “give me some cash” comes up say thanks but NO. I got go and don’t need nothing

Reply

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: