Beware of "Plasma Pat"


If you're about to go into a store, and somebody tells you that they're an employee and would be happy to share their employee discount with you, then back away. Better yet, run. Whatever you do, don't give your money to him.

It just may be Plasma Pat.

He's known to the Tampa police as Joseph Wesley Torma. The police says that the 60-year-old has conned at least 12 people in the area. Pat says it's more like 30,000. But who's counting, really?

This is what is known. Torma has introduced himself as "Plasma Pat, the TV Discount Guy," and apparently an affable sort, he has convinced shoppers that he wants to help them out by sharing his employee discount. They give him whatever cash they have on hand or can get at an ATM, and he goes into the store to buy their TV or other large appliance.

Except he doesn't stay in the store, of course; he slips out another entrance. Meanwhile, the clueless shopper waits--and waits--and waits.

He is still out there, at large, and he is brazen enough to have called the police on occasion and taunted them. He told the authorities that most of his 30,000 crimes weren't reported because his victims were probably too embarrassed to admit that they've been tricked out of their money. He may have a point there. I don't think I'd want to admit that either.