This story was orginally published in August 2007 but we are republishing it because, according to a contact we recently received, the scam is still going on.
The phone rang and the man on the other end of the phone introduced himself.
‘Hello Pat its Mustafa’. Do you remember me, you bought a carpet fro me in Pammukale two years ago?
I paused…….Mustafa……Mustafa umm, oh Hi Mustafa how are you?.
He asked if I was still happy with the carpets I had bought, I said yes, they’re lovely.
Well he said I am in the UK right now and I have something you may be interested in. You see we had a British customer who came in to our shop in Turkey and bought £25k of silk carpets. We duly exported them to the UK, but the guy never took delivery. The thing is we can’t re-import them to Turkey because we have tax free quota and this is all used up.
If you like I can show you the carpets and you can have first refusal because you have been such a good customer of ours. I’ll sell them for a very competitive price. I'm going back to Turkey in the next few days so can we meet soon?
OK, I said and we arranged that he would come around a couple of days later.
I was full of cold when Mustafa arrived half an hour earlier than planned. He pulled up into my drive in an older grey Saab 9000. I thought his car was a bit of a strange choice. After all if he’s only in the UK on a brief visit wouldn’t he be driving some faceless hire car especially as later he said he was returning to Turkey the next day. I thought no more of it as he unloaded the carpets from his boot and came into the house.
He was 5ft 6inches, with short hair but with the brightest blue eyes, an unusual colour for a Turkish person I thought. Anyway I vaguely remembered seeing the guy in the shop. Maybe he was one of the back room boys I thought. He seemed to know enough about me, my phone number address and the carpet I bought so I thought I must have dealt with him.
He produced the carpets he spoke about on the phone which looked very nice. After a cup of tea he displayed the carpets and did the whole look how great these are act.
I agreed they looked great and, after some haggling, we agreed a price of £5,000. He then looked at the carpets I had down in the living room and asked where the two carpets I had bought from him were. I said I was going to move them upstairs and they were packed away in a bag in the hall.
I said I needed the get the cash for the carpets so he offered to give me a lift to the bank and drop me back.
When we got back from the bank I handed the money over and he left the carpets. At this point I was distracted by one of my dogs that had gone upstairs. While I trying to get the dog back I heard a car pull away in the drive….Mustafa had gone…..and so had my other carpets that were in the bag in the hall!
So a well planned, deceptive and very very cool fraudster with an eye for an opportunity. He was gone and I was furious. Of course I rang the Police but they couldn’t offer any help other than to let me report the crime. I even contacted the Turkish Consulate. They were very sympathetic but couldn't help.
I should be able to claim some money back from my insurance company for the stolen carpets but the two carpets I bought, I have since learned, are worth a fraction of what I paid.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here is my hard learnt advice:
Beware of people saying remember me from so and so shop. My name, phone number, address (and probably eye colour and favourite pets name) were written down by the shop keeper when I bought the carpets so he could post them to me in the UK. These details can be easily sold on, stolen or copied by anyone.
If you are contacted out of the blue by someone offering you a ‘never be repeated deal’ resist the temptation. On reflection who would have paid £25k and never taken delivery of the carpets!
Please let all your friends know about this story and maybe we can save other victims from this fraud.
If he has struck once he’ll do it again and again. He’s likely going through his list right now and lining up his next victim. Don’t let that next victim be you!
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