Tucsonan Theodore Leombroni said he had a great idea – an automobile safety device for which he had a patent pending, authorities said. But Leonbroni, 47, needed some investors to move the project along.

Leombroni/SPD photo

Leombroni/SPD photo

To add to the allure, he also said he was investing in coal mines outside of the United States. He stopped short, however, of claiming to have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Even without the bridge, his ruse worked.

Over the last four years, Leombroni managed to talk various women out of more than $1.5 million for his fraudulent project, with $1 million coming from a single source, the Scottsdale Police Department said.


So far six of the women have come forward, but Scottsdale police, who arrested Leombroni last week, believe there are still more out there.

Leombroni, who admitted to having a gambling problem – is being held in the Maricopa County Jail on $200,000 bond. Scottsdale police also said the man had already spent two years in prison for a Cochise County fraud scheme conviction in 1994.

Police urge anyone with information about this man, or those whom have been scammed by this man, to call SPD at (480) 312-5000.

What makes some scammers so effective?

Leombroni preyed on women. Whether we like it or not, women can be easier targets than men. Instead of getting mad, we should become more wary of any person who wants our cash (unless, of course, it’s for buying a bridge in Brooklyn).

He also found many of his victims at bars and casinos, where people are more relaxed and perhaps not walking around expecting to be scammed.

Based on his success, we can also probably bet he’s a smooth talker. Those are dangerous, manipulative and can usually get what they want after years of perfecting their craft.

Property tax notice warning

Another scam kicking around town comes in the form of an official-looking letter that looks like a tax bill. It’s blue and white with the heading “2009 Property Tax Reduction Form.” The notice outlines how this company, if you send them some money, can file to lower your property taxes.

I received one about two weeks ago here in Pima County, with the promise that I could get back nearly $1,000. It sounded delicious and the letter did look official. But I didn’t bite.

A couple of things have raised the radar of Cochise County assessor Phil Leiendecker, according to a story in the Sierra Vista Herald.

For one, Leiendecker said the assessed values listed on the notice he reviewed are incorrect.

For another, the letter says 2009 assessments will be appealed – even though he noted that deadline has merrily come and gone.

“This is a complete scam,” he is quoted as saying. “Do not send money to this company.”

Don’t give any to Leombroni, either.


Have you fallen for any scams? What happened?

Have you ever scammed anyone? Are you reading this in jail?

What’s the craziest scam you’ve ever heard of, in Tucson or otherwise?