Police want to warn you about a fake gold scam that has led to a series of forceful robberies in Chula Vista. Investigators believe the group of suspects are possibly related. They’re using kids to lure people into selling their valuable jewelry or having it snatched right off victims.
“Our suspects seem to run in pairs of 2 or 3. They will have male and female counterparts, and occasionally they have used young children, saying that they need to get their children food or they need to get home and are out of gas. So, it kind of tugs on the heartstrings of our victims,” Chula Vista Police detective Katelin Rudolph said.
There have been 12 of these scams so far this year. Police said it is happening in broad daylight in parking lots like Seafood City Market located on Orange Avenue.
The suspects are targeting shopping center parking lots, tricking people into buying or exchanging their real jewelry for what they assume is a higher value gold, to help the scammers pay for gas or feed their children—who are brought along to make the story convincing.
“The victims would then go and try to sell the gold or would get it appraised and it would be fake,” Rudolph said.
And in some cases, victims who are reluctant to make the exchange have had their necklaces, watches, rings and bracelets forcibly taken.
“That’s very sad to see how they use the children to get benefits,” shopper Marina Marable said.
Police believe the same family unit is responsible for targeting people as far away as Washington state and Florida.
In San Diego County, the victims have mostly been Asian. In one case, fake gold was given to an 88-year-old woman who exchanged her own jewelry that was worth $6,000.
“It’s heartbreaking that they’re getting taken advantage of,” Rudolph said. “That’s why we want to get this out to the community so we can stop this and hopefully prevent any further crimes here.”
Police remind shoppers to be vigilant especially in parking lots. Be wary of anyone asking for help and trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
There could be more victims out there who may be embarrassed to report it. Police said you can give them a call to report it. It could help speed up this investigation.
If you’re ever confronted by the group, police ask you that you not try to physically stop them. Get a good description of what they look like, what they’re wearing and try to get a license plate number.