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Buyer beware: Gold scam reported in area
fake gold con
Scammers have been targeting the Central Valley area pretending to be stranded motorists in need of gas money and willing to sell their “18K gold” jewelry, which authorities said has been proven to be fake (Photo contributed by the CHP).

The California Highway Patrol is warning people that a con involving individuals selling “gold” jewelry to try and make gas money is happening in the region.

Over the last few months the CHP has received numerous 911 calls regarding vehicles which appeared to be disabled on the freeways or county roads. The occupants would flag down motorists and tell them they need money for gas.

In exchange for money, the subjects offer to sell jewelry they are wearing at the time, like necklaces, rings, bracelets and watches. The jewelry is stamped 18K and is portrayed to be worth more than the amount they are requesting. 

The CHP said the subjects have used elaborate stories to explain why they need money — their wallet was stolen/lost or a family member was in the hospital and needed surgery.

Suspects have been reported to work as a group/family and generally have young children with them. The subjects dress professionally, speak with a thick accent, and are believed to be from Romania, according to the CHP.

Suspects have been using various types of vehicles, generally SUV style. The CHP has learned the vehicles are rentals.

One member on the Facebook group Turlock Neighborhood Watch posted on Sunday that an individual in a Kia sedan with Texas license plates was attempting to sell a gold ring around the Arco gas station at 1801 Lander Ave.

On Jan. 18, a member of the Facebook group posted an account of one of her older relatives becoming a victim of this scam. The user stated her older male relative was approached by a man and woman of Middle Eastern descent in the parking lot of the Kohl’s store at 2751 Countryside Dr. in Turlock. The couple stated they needed to get gas money to go to Miami and offered to sell him some gold necklaces. The man bought two necklaces that were supposed to be 18 karat gold for a total of $100, according to the post. He later took them to a jeweler and learned the necklaces were made of brass.

Another user posted in the same group on Dec. 17 that a man driving a Cadillac SUV was trying to sell a gold ring or watch for $50 so that he could buy gas. He claimed he had lost his wallet. The user said the man became hostile when told the person wasn’t interested in buying the jewelry. The user said it was in the Denair area and described the man as Middle Eastern.

Numerous people have stated similar encounters around Turlock, especially near freeway on ramps.

The scam was heavily reported in the Fresno area before moving along into other Central Valley towns.

The CHP is hoping to hear from individuals who have fallen prey to these scams. Those with any encounters with these individuals are asked to call the CHP Central Division ISU at (559) 277-7250.