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Police seek 'Plasma Pat' in TV discount scam

  • Story Highlights
  • Police identify 'Plasma Pat' as Joseph Wesley Torma, age 60
  • Man offered to use employee discount for strangers, pocketed their cash, police say
  • 'Plasma Pat' taunted police, saying he had 30,000 victims
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By Rich Phillips
CNN Senior Producer
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- He's a TV salesman offering an unbelievable deal -- and police say you don't want to do business with him.

"Plasma Pat" a.k.a. Joseph wesley Torma, was caught on a surveillance camera entering Wal-Mart.

Police in Largo, Florida, say "Plasma Pat" is really 60-year-old Joseph Wesley Torma.

Dubbing himself "Plasma Pat, the TV Discount Guy," he allegedly took cash from Wal-Mart shoppers, promising to use his employee discount to get them a good deal on a TV set, police said.

Then, he called the police to taunt them.

Police in Largo, Florida, a city near Tampa on the state's gulf coast, circulated security pictures of "Plasma Pat," and now can put a name to the alliterative nickname.

Investigators say their suspect is 60-year-old Joseph Wesley Torma, and they've just released a mug shot from a recent arrest in Polk County, Florida.

"He made at least two or three phone calls, and he even talked about surrendering, but he never showed up, obviously," said Lt. Michael Loux of the Largo Police department.

Police believe "Plasma Pat" has conned victims in about a dozen different places in Florida.

He allegedly befriended people outside Wal-Mart stores, telling his victims that he worked at the store, and that he could use his employee discount to get them a good deal on a major purchase.

Then, police said, he took their cash, walked into the store through one door -- and out another, leaving his victims in the parking lot.

One victim found himself out $300 while waiting outside for a television.

Largo Police say that Torma also called them several times. asking to speak with Det. Brendan Arlington. Each time he called, police say, Torma identified himself as "Plasma Pat," and bragged that he had cheated about 30,000 people who will never file a police report.

"Because the victims feel embarrassed, he feels that nobody is going to report the crime," said Lt. Michael Loux. "And I think he's probably right."

Police say they believe that Torma has left the area, and may be headed to Texas, but they have not explained why.

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