Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Chainsaw conmen swing wide net

Published:Friday | May 6, 2016 | 5:00 AMChristopher Serju
One of the genuine STIHL-manufactured chainsaws in the display room at Delta Supply Co Limited, 106 Hagley Park Road, Kingston.

Following a recent Gleaner article on con men from overseas selling counterfeit chainsaws, three persons have contacted the newspaper to report that they had encountered the criminals, with one of them admitting to being conned.

The article was triggered by advertisements in The STAR newspaper warning the public to be on the lookout for foreigners selling counterfeit industrial equipment.

Delta Supply Company Limited had put out the advertisements advising that the criminals were claiming to be representing STIHL, a top-of-the-line German-manufactured brand for which it is the local authorised dealer.

After speaking with Delta Supply executives, The Gleaner had been able to identify a man who bought a chainsaw for almost a third less than market price, believing he was getting the genuine product and a bargain in the process.

Leroy Aiken had been convinced by the two foreigners that they were heading back overseas in short order and needed to get rid of the excess luggage.

AIKEN'S ENCOUNTER

In response to Aiken's story, Wayne Pascoe sent an email indicating that he, too, had been approached with the same sales pitch.

"The man's story is true. I met the same men in Spanish Town and they told me the exact same story," said Pascoe.

"Said they were from Italy and had to leave the same evening, only this time they were selling bush cutters and something else. They spoke about the same workshop and the cost of shipment back home. One is an older man and the other is quite younger."

He added: "I wonder how our Government allow these people to bring these defective things here, and yet if a householder bringing home two old pants, they charge them so hard cause they are accused of reselling."

The other email was from Valerie Thompson, who wrote: "I think these foreign men are serial con men. I was approached in Clarendon a few weeks ago. He used the similar line about returning to Italy and had to get rid of his wares as he was leaving for Italy that evening and had no more use for them."

Thompson added: "He said he had two generators that he was selling. I told him I wasn't

interested but would point him to someone who may be. I noted he wasn't interested in knowing who and thanked me and continued off down a side road. I thought it was unusual for a foreigner to be driving around in an area he didn't know selling his wares. It was a group of us and we were surprised, all amazed by this."

The other respondent was not so fortunate in that she bought their story, as well as a chainsaw purported to be a STIHL-manufactured item, but which Delta Supply says is not.

This time, however, the lead salesman ramped up his pitch by leaving a local contact number with his victim, promising to return to the island with weed whackers for sale, among other things.

The woman, who wished not to be identified, shared the compelling reason for forking over $30,000 of her hard-earned cash for the brand name chainsaw.

"My parents have a lot of woodland in a country area and we want to cut down the trees," she said.

"So when I saw it I was like, 'OK, perfect,' instead of getting somebody who has one. I know those things are kind of expensive so, when I called around and heard it was like $90,000, I said 'yeah.'"

Meanwhile, efforts to get a response from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) proved unsuccessful, as Colonel Desmond Edwards, the head of the agency, was said to be out of office.

"I made some enquires and I was told that MOCA does not discuss any matters that are under investigation, whether it has anything to do with us or not," said a representative of the agency, who did not give her name when The Gleaner called.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com