The store owner said he told the police he didn’t take personal checks from customers but made an exception. Soon he began to think the customer had stolen a Audemars Piguet watch.
BOCA RATON - A 60-year-old Miami-area man is charged with using a bad check to buy a $67,000 watch at a Mizner Park shop.
Victor Blanco, listing an address in Coral Gables, was booked Friday at the Palm Beach County Jail, charged with larceny between $20,000 and $100,000. He remained in jail Tuesday with his bail set at $50,000.
Court records show no attorney for him, and no telephone number for him could be found.
The store’s owner, Vladislav "Bobby" Yampolsky, learned from The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday that Blanco had been arrested. He said he's had his own private investigators looking for the man in several states since the alleged theft in October 2017.
Yampolsky said his store, ECJ Luxe Collection, is the only authorized retailer in the region for the Audemars Piguet watch, a Swiss-made timepiece described as one of the finest in the world.
"That's how he found us," Yampolsky said.
He said that, on Oct. 21, 2017, Blanco came in to buy the watch. The price: $67,410.
Yampolsky told Blanco he doesn’t take personal checks. But, he said, Blanco mentioned names the owner knew and offered to call them as references.
The owner "stated that he did not want to be rude and advised that he trusted Blanco," a Boca Raton police report said.
"He was in contact with me for a month prior," Yampolsky said Tuesday.
"I had my guard up. I've been doing this for 30 years," he said. But, he said, "The names he mentioned, I know very well. He mentioned some things only those people would know." He described those people as "well-known socialites from Miami and the New York area."
Blanco stayed in the store an hour before finally writing the check and another hour afterward, telling Yampolsky about, among other things, an autistic child for whom Yampolsky ended up giving Blanco trinkets, and about a girlfriend who had died. And he said he wanted to upgrade a ring his wife had.
For several days following the sale, Yampolsky said, he continued to correspond with Blanco, who told him he was bringing his wife to the store to look at diamonds for her ring
Then, suddenly, texts did not go through. It was then, the owner said, that he started fearing he’d been ripped off. He said he and his manager learned from a blog website that Blanco had a history of alleged scams.
On Oct. 30, Yampolsky said, he learned the check had bounced.
Over the next several months, Boca Raton police subpoenaed documents from banks and vendors. The California license turned out to be valid. But a telephone number listed for Blanco was found to be disconnected. And a Miami police officer went to his last known address but found the apartment belonged to someone else.
The Boca Raton report was written in November 2018. Authorities did not say why or how they just now tracked down Blanco.
Yampolsky said he's sure the watch was fenced long ago.
The report said Blanco had an extensive criminal history which included burglary, check fraud, and drug possession.
"I'm glad they got him off the streets," Yampolsky said.