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Fashionable Scam

November 10, 1996

Imagine our amazement to find the article on "Fashion Victims" in Paris (Oct. 27) describe the same experience we had had.

We were approached by the same charming swindler on the same bridge in front of the Louvre. His brother owned a restaurant in San Francisco, he was from Milan and worked for Armani. He and his friend had gambled away all their money. He would give us lovely leather jackets if we would give him money for gas.

About this time, his accomplice drove up. Our crook got in the car and put plastic-covered jackets out the window. I told him we did not want them, had no room to pack them, etc.

He grabbed the coats he'd insisted I hold, called us something in Italian, and off they sped in a car with an unmarked spot where the license should be.

BRITTON and

CHARLENE BOWKER

Ojai

Re: "Fashion Victims": Last year as I walked down a street close to the train station in Rome, a well-dressed man in a black Mercedes pulled over and asked directions.

After I told him how to get to his destination, -he thanked me profusely and asked where I was from. What a coincidence, he said, he had just returned from doing a show in Beverly Hills for his employer, Giorgio Armani.

He drove off, stopping after only a few feet and waited for me to catch up. How rude of him, he said, after I had been so kind; he would like to give me an Armani jacket he had with him.

I refused his offer, but he insisted--and look, what could he do--he was out of gas, had lost his wallet, had to get home to Milan and had no money. He couldn't call the office to send him money because it was Saturday.

Could I please give him some money? I continued to say no.

Maybe he works Paris and Rome.

JERRY RUTLEDGE

West Hollywood

My wife and I were also victims of that smooth operator (the man posing as a Valentino-Armani fashion exhibitor) in Paris. Amazing how similar was the method.

Broken English with an Italian accent, lost big money last night at the casino, his wife was going to "kill" him and the offer of free fashion designer jackets.

As they say "live and learn," but this "travel horror" in Paris taught us a lesson.

FRANK DiGREGORIO

Huntington Beach

Thank you for alerting your readers about scam artists while on vacation. As an international flight attendant who travels overseas weekly, I have come in contact with these people many times. I have never given them a dime.

Regarding the writer of the article, please have him meet me in Brooklyn in three weeks. I've got a bridge for sale. Real cheap!

KEN LOMBARDO

Redondo Beach

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