Put the pizza ovens down and step away from the door.
That's what Fridley cops said recently, after a Craigslist scammer hoodwinked two aspiring pizza shop owners out of $6,400. They forked over the money thinking they'd scored a great deal on the ovens, but the equipment wasn't really for sale.[jump]
Fridley police Lt. Mike Monsrud tells us that the Godfather's Pizza shop on University Avenue, across from Pickle Park, had been closed three or four months before the scammer showed up sometime in late October. He changed the locks, posted an ad on craigslist offering the ovens for sale, and waited for a bite.
It only took a few days for two guys opening a pizza shop of their own in Forest Lake to innocently fall for the ruse. They contacted the scammer and drove over to Fridley, where the scammer unlocked the shop and showed them the ovens.
Monsrud said there was some haggling over the price, and then the two marks handed over $6,400 in cash. Then they arranged for a mover to show up the next day to cart the ovens away.
No worries, they scammer told them. The back door will be open. Just tell them to come on in and take care of business.
That's what happened. But as chance would have it, the property manager was driving by and saw the moving truck and stopped in to figure out what was going on - and realized the Forest Lake guys had been taken for suckers.
The Godfather's franchise owner was contacted: No, he said, he didn't authorize the ovens to be sold. The police were called in, but they had little to go on, because the scammer had used a throwaway cell phone to arrange the deal. The two guys out $6,400 are pretty cheesed off.
And topping the pizza scam: The IP address from the craigslist posting was traced back to a cemetery in Los Angeles.