Vancouver police are warning the public after five seniors were targeted by thieves posing as jewelry sellers.
Insp. Steve Rai said the victims of the scam include an Italian man, a Filipino man and three Punjabi-speaking women, who lost $5,000 to $10,000 worth of jewelry.
Rai says thieves approach a potential victim who is wearing gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings, and overwhelms him or her by talking and placing fake jewelry or a scarf on the victim's head, neck or wrist.
The thief then removes the victim's jewelry, leaving behind the fake jewelry or scarf in its place. The victims, who have become disoriented and confused, don't know they've been scammed until they notice their jewelry is missing.
Police are investigating for connections to the so-called blessing scam, where 13 elderly Chinese women were tricked into giving away large amounts of money and jewelry.
Police have released the following video to demonstrate how the scam unfolds.
The suspects are described as both men and women of varying age, with medium to dark skin. The women often wear flowing dresses and scarves. On a number of occasions, the thief has left in a waiting car.
Police have released the following tips:
- If you wear jewelry in public, conceal valuable items under your clothing.
- Don’t allow anyone you don’t know into your personal space.
- Clearly tell the person that you are not interested, and ask them to leave you alone.
- Draw attention to the situation by calling for help.
- Call 911 and report the crime to police.