Dozens tricked by fools gold scam

A scam of fools gold appears to be afoot in Edmonton.
Local jeweller says he's seen dozens of Edmontonians tricked into buying similar fake gold items in the past little while. (CBC)

A scam of fools gold appears to be afoot in Edmonton.

The set up: a white car pulls up next to you on the street. A passenger in the vehicle offers you the chance to purchase what appears to be gold rings and chains at a cut-rate.

But when you buy the jewelry and take it into a store, the truth comes out.

Kim Allers paid a little more than $300 for a small handful of what he thought were gold items, paying cash to the sellers who claimed they needed the money to return home to Portugal.

"Driving down the road, five minutes after I bought it I said, 'What did I just do? This can't be real,' said Allers. "Gold fever hit."

Allers’ fears were confirmed when he took the loot to Sean Susun’s jewelry shop, where acid tests revealed the items to be fake.

Sean Susun says it would be difficult for the average person to discern between real gold jewelry and the fake items being sold on the streets. (CBC)

And Susun said Allers is not the first to be fooled by this, or similar, scams.

He said he’s seen about two dozen people who have purchased items similar to those brought in by Allers.

The most commonly forged items are men’s rings stamped with 18 karat markings, heavy, designed signet rings and curb-link chains, said Susun.

"[To a jeweller], the weight doesn’t quite feel right, whereas somebody who doesn’t see this on a regular day has nothing to compare it to, so it is hard to identify it immediately."

He thinks the scam may be the result of someone buying the fake gold items in bulk, hoping to make a quick buck in resale.

"I feel terrible about it because it's people getting taken advantage of," he said.

But Susun adds that private sales of gold jewelry can work, but warns buyers to be cautious.

"The best thing I can say is obviously buyer beware," he said. "But more importantly, if you do see something that you think is a legitimate deal, and you want to take the next step — before you commit, see if they are willing to bring it into a jeweller and have it tested."

Edmonton police are now warning people to watch out for the would-be scammers, but so far no arrests have been made.

Similar scams have also been reported in Halifax, Calgary, Red Deer and Medicine Hat.