(TORONTO, ON) – The distrust instinct kicks in when something is exciting and too good to be true.
It is a quiet weekday, after the lunch hour, and I decide to take Dylan the Killer Westie for a walk down to Eglington Avenue. It’s a good 25-minute walk, in what you may call an upscale, but not over the top, residential area of Toronto.
About the most exciting thing you’ll see is another dog walker or a sweaty jogger.
But my complacency is quickly shattered when a big black Escalade pulls up with its driver waving an open map out of the front passenger window. In broken English, he declares he is lost and is looking for directions on how to get to Pearson Airport, for a flight back to Italy.
No big deal. Some simple directions and he should be on his way.
But, he is so very thankful he thrusts his business card in my hand with Armani being the first thing I notice; Italian address with Euro phone numbers in Milan, to boot.
He insists upon giving a gift.
“You like a leather jacket? What’s your size?”
An impressive leather jacket is shown with Armani labels wrapped with plastic also labelled Armani. He declares it’s too expensive for him to take it back to Italy as he’ll have to pay duties. He says he’s just done a show for Harry Rosen, the clothier.
Being a helpful Torontonian I politely decline, but he insists.
Wow, it’s my lucky day. A $2,000 jacket for giving directions to the airport. A once in a lifetime experience.
However, he then asks if I have a wife. Another leather jacket appears. Then do I have children. More Armani merchandise appears.
It’s beginning to feel uncomfortable and unbelievable, but miracles do happen.
I am about ready to trundle off with Armani canvas bags full of Armani merchandise, but my friend asks one last question.
“What’s your suit size?”
He pulls out a $2,000 navy blue suit and declares it’s mine, but he needs a bit of a favour. He needs to buy his son a present to take back to Italy, but is short of cash. Pay him half price for the suit and I get a huge Armani stash.
Too good to be true, so I walk away.
The short man in the Escalade with a coloured tattoo on his finger thanks me profusely and heads north. I scratch my head and wonder if I could be gloriously decked out in Armani clothing? Just my damn suspicions have ruined a good deal.
I phone Toronto Police’s 53 Division the next day to advise what happened and, alas, another man has just e-mailed them with an identical story. Why do Armani salespeople have cheap business cards and drive themselves to the airport in Escalades?
In any case, a bit of research reveals this is a hot scam in Toronto and throughout North America.
Listen to the old axiom; If it’s too good to be true it isn’t.
On the other hand I could have been the sharpest dressed man in the crowd.
My advice is to watch for lost Armani salespeople trying to get to the airport. It’s scam with a long tradition.