Police in B.C.'s Interior have issued a public warning about a scam involving fake gold chains, a story about Osama bin Laden and alleged smuggling from Iraq.
RCMP say at least three people are selling gold jewelry they claim was smuggled in from Iraq. The three may have links to Manitoba, as their vehicle is said to have licence plates from that province.
The group tells unsuspecting buyers the necklaces and rings once belonged to Osama bin Laden, the former leader of the Taliban — even though bin Laden was actually the founder of al-Qaeda.
'[The victim] characterized them as being very quick, very organized, and very skilled at what they were doing.' —Kamloops RCMP Sgt. Grant Learned
Kamloops RCMP staff Sgt. Grant Learned admits this scam is particularly far-fetched, but it has duped at least one victim — a 50-year-old man who paid $760 for three gold necklaces and four gold rings from the group in a fast food parking lot Friday.
The man found out later the jewelry was worthless.
Learned says, like most scams, this one plays on the victim's desire to get a deal.
"When those emotional triggers get pulled, then some people, regardless of how crazy the story may sound, they feel they're going to be able to profit from it, and that's how the scams are able to succeed," he says.Kamloops, B.C.
Later the same day, three suspects with similar descriptions used aggressive tactics in an attempt to sell necklaces to a couple in a grocery store parking lot.
The sellers managed to switch two necklaces, putting a fake gold necklace on the 59-year-old man while stealing his real one, which was worth $500.
"He characterized them as being very quick, very organized, and very skilled at what they were doing," Learned said.
Learned said police are now on the lookout for two men and one woman who were said to be driving a newer, black Ford Focus with Manitoba licence plates.