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Fake gold scam returns to the Kootenays

Travelling fraudsters are once again attempting to dupe locals into buying fake gold and jewelry.

These con artists hit the Kootenays hard last year, regularly seen in higher traffic areas such as gas stations, grocery stores, shopping malls or plazas.

“They often target the kind of individuals who have a natural inclination to want to help someone in need or distress,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesperson for the BC RCMP in the Southeast District. “As we continue to transition into our new normal, RCMP ask residents to use their common sense and intuition to avoid such scams that will hit you in your wallet.”

The recurring seasonal crime series is well underway, as reports from Cranbrook, Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops and the North Okanagan have already reached local RCMP detachments.

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“RCMP Southeast District Crime Analysts found that a total of 61 reports of fake gold scams were reported to RCMP across the Southeast District, between April [2020] and December 2019. Scammers were active in both small town communities and large urban centers and conned residents out of an estimated $15,000.” Cpl. O’Donaghey added.

So far this year, the rate of fake gold scam occurrences are reportedly lower.  Cpl. O’Donaghey suggested that it could be in part due to the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions by British Columbia public health officials.

The RCMP provided some tips on how to recognize the fake gold scam should it take root in your town:

  • Scammer approaches their victim and offers to sell them gold jewelry, a transaction is completed and the victim later discovers the gold is not real;
  • Scammer approaches an individual and asks for money, often claiming to have lost their wallet and needs money for hospital bills or to escape an abusive domestic relationship. In this scenario, the con-artist offers gold jewelry to the victim as collateral. The victim later discovers the gold is not real and does not hear back from the suspect;
  • Scammers are usually both adult males and females and oftentimes appear South Asian or Middle Eastern, and sometimes claim to be from Dubai or Saudi Arabia;
  • Scammers are usually associated to and traveling around in rental vehicles, sometimes with small children;

“Oftentimes victims are embarrassed to acknowledge that they have fallen for these tactics. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a similar scam, please call your local police.” said Cpl. O’Donaghey, noting many fake gold scams go unreported.

For more information on fraud prevention, please or visit the BC RCMP website or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

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