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As a hearing-impaired man, Ricky Vega relies on his other senses and his instincts heavily.
But after being conned out of a thousand bucks, he's now wishing he would have listened to his gut.
"I felt like someone was following me. Right here on Atlantic and Dixie,” Vega said Monday of a spot in Pompano Beach.
Vega said the driver of a Ford F-150 followed him into the Shop Smart Food Store at 680 NE 33rd St. in Pompano Beach. Vega had $600 in his pocket and was getting ready to cash his wife’s check – pooling together his rent money.
That’s when a man in a black polo shirt walked in behind him. They started talking.
"Don't I know you from somewhere or something? ‘Cause you've been following me from Dixie and Atlantic?” Vega recalled telling him. “He says, ‘Naw, you're kidding me.’"
The suspect told Vega he was having car trouble and said he was looking for a can of oil. They ended up getting friendly and shaking hands. In surveillance video, both can be seen at the cash register as the clerk hands Vega about $350 in cash in an envelope.
"The suspect knew he was carrying cash and that's why he followed him,” Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dani Moschella said.
Vega said he became less suspicious when he saw the suspect pop the hood and pour the oil into his car. Blocks later he saw the same scene by the side of the road, so Vega pulled over to help him.
But the man pulled a gun on him, Vega said. He asked the man why.
"You're really not going to do this, are you? And he goes, you know, I need money too,” Vega said.
He lost his cash – but also a little faith in humanity.
"Yes, I am sad. Because I’m trying to teach my youngest right here, Rico, to do the right thing--but the right thing is not always right."
Rico is also a skeptic now.
"I wouldn't pull over and help anybody. I mean, look what happened—a person can put a gun to your face, off of you trying to be good,” he said.
The BSO said the suspect is 5 feet 4 inches tall, of medium build, bald, and a Spanish speaker. It urges anyone with information about his identity to call Robbery Detective Trevor Goodwin at 954-321-4270, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 954-493- TIPS.