Vail fur shop owner fends off scams |

Vail fur shop owner fends off scams

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL ” A local fur coat store owner avoided being duped by a coat caper and two fraudulent check scams last week, he said.

A man who said he was a doctor from Omaha, Neb., called Hernandez at Alaska Fur Gallery last week and gave him a credit number to buy a $26,000 chinchilla fur coat for his son.

The credit card was declined, so Hernandez called the man back.

“I said, ‘I feel there’s something fishy going on,'” Hernandez said.

After finding out that the same man called Alaska Fur Gallery’s coat distributor in Beverly Hills, Calif., looking for the same kind of coat, Hernandez called American Express and was told that the real credit card holder’s identity had been stolen, Hernandez said.

Vail police are investigating the credit card fraud, Vail police Detective Sgt. Craig Bettis said.

“We’ve seen these scams before,” Bettis said.

Hernandez also avoided two entirely different scams last week, he said.

Alaska Fur Gallery leases a four-bedroom condominium in Avon and advertised it for rent on Two women asked to rent two bedrooms and mailed Hernandez two checks totaling more than $6,000, he said.

They wanted Hernandez to cash the checks and send them the difference of the $1,200 sum of their first month’s rent and security deposit, Hernandez said.

Hernandez made a couple phone calls to a bank and another business and found the checks were fraudulent.

“You just have to be on your toes,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez reported the fraudulent checks to Vail police, but he doesn’t know whether they have found a suspect, he said.

But that wasn’t the end of his troubles last week, Hernandez said.

A $21,500 sable coat, “the elite of furs,” also was stolen from Alaska Fur Gallery last weekend, Hernandez said.

Three well-dressed men and two women came into the store on Bridge Street, he said.

While Hernandez was busy helping the men, one of the women probably put the sable coat under her jacket and walked out with it, he said. The coat hanger was found in another jacket, he said.

“Boy, I tell ya, some people,” he said.

Police do not have a suspect in the theft. If you any information, call 479-2200, Bettis said.

– Look for suspicious activity: Groups of shoplifters, called “theft rings,” go to stores so that they can have a lookout and someone to distract workers while products are stolen.

– Put expensive products where you can see them. Buy surveillance cameras or attach electronic devices to clothing that can trigger an alarm if stolen.

– Staff your business well: Theft rings can be difficult to deal with alone.

– Pay attention when you open or close your store. Thieves think that workers are more likely to be distracted during those times.

– Try not to do business for large amounts of money on the phone or online. Thieves can use someone else’s credit card number and don’t have to show identification over the phone or online.

– Ask for several forms of identification and a driver’s license number when someone wants to spend a great deal of money.

” Source: Vail police Detective Sgt. Craig Bettis

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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