Cops: Southporter loses $35K in Yankee 'dirt' memorabilia scam
Following a months-long investigation, a Westport man was charged by Fairfield police last Friday with defrauding a Southport resident of $35,000 in a scheme to market what he said was dirt from the original New York Yankees Stadium.
The Southport man reported the scam to Fairfield police last May, police said Monday.
The victim told police that he met Mark Hayward, 52, of Conte Place in Westport, in late 2008 and that Hayward had asked him to invest in business that would market corporate gift items -- a key chain encapsulating dirt from the former Yankees stadium.
Hayward and the Southporter agreed that the latter would invest $35,000 in the venture, in return for a 20 percent share, police said. These parties reportedly planned to sell the key chains through a sporting goods store licensed to sell Yankees merchandise in New York, according to the police report.
The Southport resident made his $35,000 investment through a series of transactions in 2008 and 2009. Hayward told the man that he had more than $1 million deposited in a Barclays Bank account in England and that he would be able to release funds back to the Southport resident as a return on his investment, police said.
After the Southport resident became suspicious, Hayward supplied him with a series of letters supposedly from the bank, police said. The first letter in 2009 stated that Hayward had a hold on more than $1 million. Another letter stating that funds would become available was signed by a person the Southport resident believed to be an operations manager at Barclays Bank, police said. A subsequent letter from the bank said there would be a delay in the release of funds from the account.
The victim later demanded that Hayward return his $35,000 after growing doubts about the deal, police said.
A police investigation determined that the so-called bank letters were forgeries and that there were insufficient funds in Hayward's account to cover the invetment. Hayward's account was, in fact, overdrawn, police said.
Fairfield police investigators made numerous attempts to meet with Hayward, who reportedly initially agreed to meet with them, but then canceled the meetings, police said.
Hayward was charged with first-degree larceny and third-degree forgery. He was released on $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear Jan. 23 in Bridgeport Superior Court.