Williamsburg, NY – NYPD Search for Thieves Who Plotted Italian Tile Caper in Brooklyn


    Tile Depot. Photo: CourtesyWilliamsburg, NY – NYPD detectives from the 88th Precinct have a real whodunit on their hands. It is a mystery which began last November with a telephone order for two thousand square feet of imported Italian porcelain tile – an estimated 8,500 pounds of it – from the Tile Depot of New York in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jewish establishment.

    According to a report in the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/VkhYdr), Joel Mertz, the store manager, took the order by phone from a man named Peter who claimed he was calling from Boston, but was working on a house in New York City. Peter, whose last name is being withheld, authorized the $6,859.13 charge to his American Express card. He sent an e-mail to Mr. Mertz with the AMEX card number, expiration date, and security code. Peter even sent a scanned, handwritten letter of authorization for the purchase and provided a home address in North Carolina. Peter also scanned and e-mailed a copy of the front and back of the AMEX card, as well as a copy of his passport.

    AMEX approved the nearly $7,000 purchase, and Tile Depot arranged to have the tiles shipped through FreightCenter.com, a third party company that finds trucking companies willing to haul loads to its consumers. In this instance, FreightCenter.com hired the New Penn trucking company based in Pennsylvania, and three pallets of porcelain tiles were loaded onto the New Penn truck. The bill of lading read “residential delivery” to an address on Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, just a few blocks from Tile Depot.

    Several weeks later, a North Carolina man, with the same name and address used by “Peter,” discovered he had been a victim of identity theft when he noticed the tile and other purchases on his AMEX statement. The real Peter called AMEX to report the fraud, which resulted in a charge-back to Sol Mertz, the owner of the Tile Depot. Mertz further learned that AMEX had also declined to pay the delivery service fee.

    According to a FreightCenter.com representative, the thieving Peter had also used the trucking company for other deliveries during the same time period. And the passport which had been sent to Mertz as proof of identity was also fraudulent.

    No one knows where the tiles wound up. A receipt shows that the delivery was made to the Lafayette Avenue address and was signed for by a Jonathan Miller. But the building it was ostensibly delivered to was a run-down three story building – the kind of place that needs more urgent repairs than the installation of expensive Italian tiles. A 25-year-old man living at the property said he had lived there his whole life with his mother and knew nothing about the delivery.

    For now, the police are trying to ascertain why the thief or thieves selected this particular address for their delivery, and if they arranged to have another truck meet the delivery in order to transfer the goods before making their escape.

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      • That’s about $3 a square foot. Probably a good deal but not unheard of. Ceramic tiles can go for a dollar a piece, maybe not Italian. There are different thicknesses, quality, styles etc. And closeouts.

      • This might be the answer: I just checked out there website (www.tiledepotny.com), they are running a special discount for all Hurricane Sandy victims, $200.00 off on every $2,000.00 purchase, so now do the calculation on your own, it would’ve been a $7,700.00 purchase and maybe the Thieve got the discount to a total off $7,000.00.

        It’s a shame that by trying to do a good deed and help people who suffered by the terrible hurricane, should be taken advantage on.

    1. When ever you get a purchase of this size by telephone you MUST raise alot of RED flags….American express will APPROVE the order but will NOT stand for the retailer if it was a total fraud…When i get a purchase in this amount and again do NOT forget the RED flag i will call AX and explain to them i have a CODE 10 which means its a suspicious sale..American express will then contact the customer by their means.
      Meaning they have different phone numbers and email addresses on file then what the customer gives you by email or by phone…Then AX will call you back and 99.99% this order gets declined and you saved your self all the headaches…

    2. I recently became a customer at the Tile Depot, it was after my fixed up basement was totally destroyed by the Sandy storm, my wood parquet floor was ruined beyond repair, this is when I saw an advertisement from Tile Depot where they offered wood-look porcelain tiles for a discounted price plus a $200.00 coupon for the Sandy victims, so we stopped by, purchased a great parquet look tile at a excellent price and still received the $200.00 off, so, $7000.00 for 2000 sf is well within their price range, by the way their service was excellent, I hope with God’s help they will apprehend those criminals.

    3. I got a call from “pay pal” offering their services for my business, and they have a gateway plan accepting all major credit cards, and you are covered if they authorize the transaction, so you don’t have to do all the extra verification if they approve it.

    4. I’m a Former Tile Store Owner! (Tile N Style) Now Closed due to Obamas Great Economy…. And I had these instances often.

      People would contact me via email with a very specific tile inquiry usually large qty. And didn’t ask for better price and always willing to pay in full up front and they would offer that they will arrange Pick up. The first time I fell for it was $9,900 dollar sale but 2 minutes after I charged the card the great Company Fidelity Payment contacted me notifying it was fraud and they canceled the charge.

      I wanted to verify it my self if it was fraud. so I contacted the Local Police from the town of the supposed customer in Montana I made him go down and verify at the Physical address if such a person lives there. It turned out to be a Senior housing complex. And no such person with that name at Location.

      But since that incidence I knew to watch out for these predators.

    5. Paypal will charge you a percentage above the high American express fees, therefore merchants are reluctant to use paypal, they will rather protect themselves through other means,

      • well you could get pay-pal for 2.2 or so for any credit card including AE no batch fees etc. for $30 a month it’s the best deal out there, plus they will reimburse you in these fraudulent cases.

        • Just checked with Paypal, their lowest fees are: $30.00 a month service charge, 2.4% plus .30 per transaction for all cards except American express, for American express their charge is 3.5% (no .30 per transaction) and they do not guarantee against fraudulent charges, So they are quite more expensive than the usual processors. the 2.2% they offer is only for online purchases.

    6. If AE first approves the charge and then changes their mind a few weeks after the delivery, they are obviously blaming the tile store for not doing their homework to make sure its legit.

      My question is, what more should the tile store have done, to satisfy AE, so that AE can’t change their mind later, about their prior approval?


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