“Non lasciare che ti con” – Don’t let him trick you.
A slick con artist has been making the rounds in the Morris Park community, hitting up Italian-speaking elderly residents for cash. The man walks away only to vanish without a trace.
Officer Jay Sturdivant, one of the 49th Precinct’s community affairs officers said he has been hearing anecdotal reports of the trickster. He learned about the latest grift at the May 21 Northeast Bronx Community Association meeting during Police Night.
“He would speak to the victims in Italian and says he know their family members,” recalled Sturdivant. “Once he hooks you, that’s when he gets money from you, stating that his wife is sick in Rome and he needs money for the plane ticket. The victims feel obligated to give.”
There have been several incidents stretching as far back as a year ago.
The fast-talking thief recently ripped off an elderly Tomlinson Avenue man for $300 in exchange for scraggly leather jackets.
Sturdivant has counted four victims so far who have met the man in various locations, including Allerton and Morgan avenues. “There could be more,” he said, noting that some victims may be too embarassed to report it.
Still, Sturdivant said the NYPD will keep its eyes open for him.
“The NYPD will continue to monitor this situation,” said Sturdivant.
But as the precinct gathers stories, the police advise residents to use the only fraud-repellant tool that works – common sense.
“If they’re asking for money, you have to be the smart person and say take a hike,” urged Sturdivant.
Police refer to this kind of scheme as affinity fraud, where the perp wins the trust of his or her victims by playing up their similarities. In this case, their Italian background.
“These scams come through the neighborhood for years, but some of these people don’t listen,” said longitme resident Vincent Prezioso, who heads the Northeast Bronx Association.
The crook has been described as a man in his mid-30s, of medium build, between 5’ 9” and 5’ 10”.
Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383