OTTAWA (KSNT) – More local residents are falling prey to “Gas Station Gold” schemes in Northeast Kansas according to jewelers and pawn shops.
27 News first reported on these fake gold schemes on March 21 earlier this year after reports emerged of scammers being active in the Junction City area. Now, the scams have been reported in the areas of Lawrence and Ottawa according to a local jewelry shop called Sutton’s Jewelry Inc. which has been in business since the 1950’s.
The owners of Sutton’s Jewelry, Philip and Cathy Sutton, spoke with 27 News on Friday about hearing reports of these scams. In the past month alone they have had four individuals come to their small store with fake jewelry items purchased from scammers operating out of parking lots and gas stations. Specifically, Cathy said that the Home Depot in Lawrence, Home Base in Ottawa and an old Zarco gas station were all places where people reported being scammed.
These fake items have included fake chains, rings and even a Rolex watch. However, these scams have been around for a long time according to the Suttons.
“We have seen this for decades, it’s not really anything new,” Cathy said. “It’s another way of taking advantage of people.”
Cathy described one of the fake items that had been brought in recently: a heavy gold chain. The jewelry was stamped with 18k which is a giveaway for fake gold.
“18k is a really high quality of gold,” Cathy said. “Chains seem to be the number one thing that is made illegally and stamped incorrectly so they can take advantage of people. Yesterday, I did see a ring. immediately, I could tell the stones were glued in, that was the first alarm before I could even test anything.”
While the Suttons said that they have not fallen for any of the scams, many others have not been so lucky. The scammers rely on the “kind hearts” of others to make their schemes work
“There was a couple, they got taken for about $500,” Cathy said. “They didn’t have $500 but they had a kind heart. The scammers will say that they need food for their family, gas money to get home, just a lot of sad stories. If you have a good heart, you’re going to fall for that.”
The rule that Cathy encourages people to follow is, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” If you want to validate whether a piece of jewelry is authentic or not, Cathy said to use a magnet on any items that you are suspicious of.
“If it connects to a magnet, its not sterling silver or gold,” Cathy said. “If it moves, there’s some fake metal in that jewelry.”
According to Cathy, these schemes can be found nationwide with the exception of Hawaii. As to where the fake items are coming from, Cathy said that while some jewelry companies do make jewelry meant to look like the real thing, they never stamp the items with the 18k symbol.
“It’s the kind-hearted people that are falling for this,” Cathy said. “They learn a terrible lesson. Because you really want to help people that are in need and these people are not in need.”
27 News also reached out to the Lawrence and Ottawa Police Departments about the issue of fake gold scams. However, both departments said that they had received no police reports related to fake jewelry scams. For Cathy, people may not report being scammed out of feeling embarrassed.
“Often people may not think its important to report these types of scams if they did not fall for it,” said Adam Weingartner, Chief of Police with the OPD. “But it is always important to let law enforcement know so we can help spread the word to protect residents.”
If you suspect that someone is using a fake gold scam in your local area or if you have fallen victim to a scam of this nature, report it to your local police department in a police report.