RCMP are cautioning residents in Kamloops and other Southern Interior communities to not fall fall victim to the “fake gold scam,” a recurring seasonal crime series that is on the rise once again in the region.
Police say the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions by public health officials likely contributed to the reduced number of occurrences in the early portion of 2020. However, reports of the scam in June and July have surfaced in Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Penticton and the North Okanagan.
Police said 61 reports of fake gold scams were reported to RCMP across the Southeast District between April and December 2019.
The Southeast District stretches from Clearwater in the north, to the Canada/U.S. border in the south, and from Lillooet in the west to the B.C./Alberta border in the east.
Scammers were active in both small communities and large urban centres, conning residents out of an estimated $15,000.
“Generally, these scammers approach their potential victims in higher traffic areas, such as gas stations, grocery stores, shopping malls or plazas,” RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said. “They often target the kind of individuals who have a natural inclination to want to help someone in need or distress.”
Tips for recognizing the “fake gold scam”:
• 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 often appear to be South Asian or Middle Eastern. They sometimes claim to be from Dubai or Saudi Arabia;
• Scammers are usually associated with, and travelling around in, rental vehicles, sometimes with small children;
“We recognize that many occurrences go unreported as victims are often embarrassed to acknowledge that they have fallen for these tactics,” O’Donaghey said.
Kamloops residents who have fallen victim to a similar scam can call the local RCMP detachment at 250-828-3000.