|Posted on February 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM|
OTTAWA -- A Nepean man says he was bamboozled by a shady carpet salesman who swindled him out of $8,000 cash and left him holding the bag -- or at least five Persian rugs.
Arnim Gorgas, 71, thought he knew the man who called him Monday, inquiring about a carpet he and his wife Patricia bought from a Merivale Rd. rug company several years earlier.
But it was only after the man drove him to the bank and took off with a fistful of his money that Gorgas figured he had been hoodwinked by a scammer.
After a phone call Monday morning, the carpet salesman showed up a few hours later at Gorgas's door.
The German-speaking scammer told Gorgas he was trying to unload the expensive carpets from his warehouse and needed Gorgas to store the carpets for a few days.
"He told me he needed money to pay for the customs," said Gorgas.
The pair made a deal -- Gorgas would get a free carpet if he stored the rugs for a few days and gave the salesman $8,000 for the purported custom fees.
Gorgas said the scammer put on the pressure to get the funds quickly and got him to drive to a nearby bank.
While sitting in his car, the salesman told Gorgas he needed cash.
"I asked him if I could write him a cheque but he said he wanted cash," said Gorgas, who withdrew $8,000 and drove the salesman back to his house.
Within a few hours, Gorgas became suspicious and called police. A detective with the Ottawa police fraud unit says there have been at least two similar scams to fleece elderly residents during the past two weeks.
The con artists get a foot in the door by feigning some knowledge of the person they're targeting, said Det. Chris Rhone of the organized fraud section.
"They say that they know some relative in Germany," said Rhone of the scheme. "The heavy pressure tactics intimidates the victims.
"It's especially hard when you have a guy right in your face and unrolling rugs in your small apartment," said Rhone, who says some victims might be too embarrassed to report being swindled.
"If someone is showing up at your door and barging their way through, you should tell them to leave immediately or you will call 911," said Rhone.
Rhone says people shouldn't give cash in business arrangements unless they are dealing with a reputable company and elderly people should have a relative present.