PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Police are investigating after a suspected con man, who they say was pretending to be blind, ripped off victims in seven states, including a local jewelry store where a pricey diamond was stolen.
The suspect hit Goldstock Jewelers on Liberty Avenue earlier this year.
Authorities say he duped diamond salesman Melanie Burke-Pohl into thinking he was a blind man who was ripped off by jewelers before. She was more than happy to help him out.
“Very smooth, couldn’t thank me enough for being so kind to him. I felt really good about it,” she said. “I went home and told my husband, ‘this is a great story.’”
He bought a loose diamond. Investigators say he called ahead of time and said he was flying in from Atlanta and was buying an engagement ring for his fiancé who attended the University of Pittsburgh.
“I have a strong intuition when something’s not right. In this instance, I just didn’t feel anything was wrong,” said Burke-Pohl. “I felt this is a guy who needs help, and he was taken advantage of.”
Authorities say he showed up with a white cane and sunglasses, and he had a cashier’s check written out for the exact purchase price, nearly $9,000.
Problem is, the account at Chase does not exist.
“It’s sinful,” Burke-Pohl said. “It’s just horrible.”
He went by the name of Joseph Carroll, but police say his real name is Taurus Centaur.
He’s locked up in Georgia right now. Police say he’s pulled similar cons in six other states, including West Virginia and Ohio.
Even so, Burke-Pohl says she hasn’t lost her faith in people.
“I still trust people. This is just a fluke that happened,” she said. “I’m glad they have him finally behind bars.”