The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 15, 2014

Cops: Con man faked blindness to steal $9,000 ring

PITTSBURGH — A suspected con man who allegedly uses fake cashier’s checks to buy vehicles, electronics and jewelry has been charged with stealing a $9,000 diamond ring from a Pittsburgh jewelry store the same way — while also pretending to be blind.

Taurus Centaur, 47, of McHenry, Maryland, remained jailed in Georgia on Thursday, one of seven states where a police bulletin said he’s suspected of crimes. The Pittsburgh charges filed against him last week, stemming from an incident in February, were first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ( ).

Centaur used the name Joseph Carroll when he called Goldstock Diamonds in downtown Pittsburgh on Feb. 10 and claimed to be a blind man from Atlanta who needed help from an expert jeweler to buy an engagement ring, Pittsburgh police said. Centaur told employees a friend recommended the jewelry store to him.

Centaur arrived at the store the next day wearing fancy clothes and sunglasses and using a cane.

Centaur allegedly gained the employees’ trust by asking specific, educated questions about his purchase. Among other things, he told the store he needed a 1.33-carat round diamond certified by the Gemological Institute of America. He also requested a 14-carat white gold setting, and paid the $8,934.50 bill with a cashier’s check the store learned was forged a few days later, police said in a criminal complaint.

Centaur didn’t show an ID before buying the ring and, because he used an alias, the store couldn’t press charges.

In March, however, a network of western Maryland law enforcement agencies issued an alert along with a photo of Centaur. Pittsburgh detectives said the store’s employees eventually picked Centaur’s picture out of a photo lineup.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for Centaur.

The Maryland bulletin indicates he’s also suspected of crimes in that state, Delaware, Ohio. Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia.

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