A St. John’s man has learned the hard way: don’t buy home theatre equipment from two smooth guys in a van in a parking lot.
The man, who asked his name not be used — “I’m kinda embarrassed at being taken for $400 and all,” he said — was approached in the parking lot of the Canadian Tire on Kelsey Drive.
“They followed me in,” said the man, who thinks the con artists targeted people in work vehicles who may have had a lot of cash on hand. “I was getting out of my car and he rolled down the window and said, ‘Dude, this is an out-of-the-blue question, but would you be interested in buying a theatre system set of speakers?’”
The man said he was suspicious, but the men in the truck were convincing as they showed him paperwork and a website about the Dresden Acoustics website detailing the equipment — they had more than a dozen units in the van — and he believed their story about an oversupply from a dealer that they were hoping to unload. The man said he was told the system was worth $2,800 and the sellers were asking for half that. He bargained them down to $400, even though he was still skeptical enough to memorize the van’s licence plate number.
“Even though the red flags were up, I gambled,” said the man. That evening at home, he looked more closely at the website and discovered it was fake, and he Googled the brand name. “I got nothing but ‘scam alert, scam alert, scam alert,’ and I thought, ‘Shit,’” he said. He discovered the speaker systems are manufactured cheaply, with cement added to the casings to give them the heft of high-quality equipment.
The buyer contacted the police, who told him he wasn’t the first one to report the sellers, and he posted an ad on Kijiji to warn others about the scam. He thinks they spoke “Montreal English” and he provided the licence plate number, FKA6726.
“They’ll probably change the licence plate on that a dozen times before they get back to Montreal,” he said.
He hopes others will learn from his mistake — even though he was skeptical, he still fell for the con.
“These guys were so smooth that — and they knew what they were doing — I could probably meet them in the parking lot tomorrow and I would end up buying two more off them. That’s how good they were,” he said.