Naples police are investigating a theft of almost $75,000 worth of art and home furnishings, after a man told them he trusted a third-party seller to liquidate the items for a percentage of the profits.
It all started in January 2016, when the victim stored the art and home furnishings at his builder's home on Starboard Drive before heading to Ohio. According to a Naples Police report, the builder referred the victim to a man they knew only as "Zoltan" to sell the goods for a ten percent commission. The victim told police that the agreement with Zoltan was only verbal.
Private investigator Walt Zalisko says that was a risky deal.
"You have to have a written agreement," Zalisko said. "This individual had a verbal agreement with this scammer, and he's left (holding) the bag here."
The victim didn't contact Zoltan again by phone until May, when he was told that some of the expensive items were sold, and that they should all be sold by the time the victim returned to Naples in the fall.
But when the victim did return and called Zoltan's number, the person who answered the phone said Zoltan moved to Europe, and didn't know where his furnishings were. The builder told the victim that Zoltan had moved out all of the art and furniture stored at his home some time during the summer.
Zalisko recommends having an investigator do a basic background check on anyone before trusting them with so many pricy possessions.
"They're going to check their criminal records," Zalisko said. "They're going to check if there's any liens or judgments against that business."
Zalisko recommended anyone wanting to sell things like art and furnishings to go through an auction house or consignment shop, and to keep any copies of written agreements with those establishments in a safe place.