Parking lot jewelry scam swindles thousands of dollars from victims

Beware jewelry scammers

A parking lot jewelry scam has duped dozens of victims in the Thompson-Okanagan out of thousands of dollars.

Con artists have preyed on victims in Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops with what they claim to be "family heirlooms." They pretend to be stranded and give a story saying they need money for gas or vehicle repairs, and they often have a couple of children with them.

"The jewelry is stamped 18 karats and is a fair replica that is made of base metal, such as brass, and to the average person looks real," says Richard Pierson of JC Bradley Jewellers in Vernon. "When people come in and we tell them it's not real, they can't believe it since it's been stamped and it looks legitimate."

The teams of scammers hop from city to city and mainly focus on parking lots of big box stores, such as Walmart, Costco and grocery stores. They tend to approach their targets with a sad story and prey on compassionate and generous people.

"This week alone, I've had four victims of this scam come see me – and between the four of them, they had given these people over $4,000," says Pierson.

"In the past year, I personally have seen more than 30 victims of this scam."

Pierson warns against purchasing jewelry from people who approach you in public, even if the product is stamped and looks legitimate. The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP also want to remind the public to be wary of these potential scams.

"It is important to the public to know that any reputable seller will not randomly approach shoppers in a parking lot to sell their goods," says Cpl. Tania Finn, Media Relations Officer for the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP.  "Be cautious of a deal that sounds too good to be true."

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