New clues could help nab gold scammer

April 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police in the East Bay say they could be close to catching a scam artist whose been dealing in gold -- fool's gold. Now, there is a clue that could lead them straight to the scammer.

Investigators say this scam has taken place all over the Bay Area, but what makes this recent one significant is that police now have a picture of the suspect and they want you to look at it closely.

Alameda County Sheriff's deputies say a man scammed an elderly Castro Valley woman out of $7,000 by selling her a fake gold bar.

"In this particular case the person is wearing scrubs like he works in a hospital so they get some sort of trust going," said Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson.

The fake gold bar looks small and it can fit in the palm of your hand. One was bought by a woman who was also duped in the Sacramento area back in 2010. Police say the scam usually goes down in the parking lot of a shopping center and the victims are elderly.

"They tell this tell of woe and how their family member needs medical care and they need money quickly, and they're willing to sell a gold bar or gold bars to the person so they can raise the money," said Nelson.

The scam artist offers the fake gold bar at a discounted price. They accompany the victim to the bank, take out cash, make the exchange, and the victim doesn't find out until they go to a jewelry store and get the bad news.

"But we also know this person has worked all over the Bay Area and other parts of the state as well," said Nelson.

In just the past two years, six victims have reported being duped out of thousands of dollars from Bakersfield to Chico. One woman, in Salinas, lost $9,000.

Now investigators hope a photo will help them catch up with the suspect who's been selling fool's gold all over the state.

Police say the suspect may speak Spanish, and may have an accomplice who buys a gold bar in front of the victim, just to add credibility. They also believe there are many more victims who were just too embarrassed to come forward.

If you've been a victim or if you know this person, call the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.


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