VANCOUVER Police are reminding east-side residents to be wary of jewelry scammers, after a Collingwood man was bilked out of thousands of dollars on Monday.
“With COVID-19 restrictions easing and more people heading outside to enjoy the warm weather, these scammers will prey on people’s good will and naivety,” said Sgt. Steve Addison on Tuesday. “We need people to know how they work and to be assertive if they are approached.”
VPD is investigating two incidents that occurred Monday afternoon in East Vancouver, and suspect there might be links between the cases.
A 51-year-old man was walking alone near Commercial Drive and Napier Street when a man and woman called him over to a parked car. The suspects showed him jewelry and tried to sell it to him.
“Fortunately, this man recognized it was a scam, because he’d seen stories on the local news about similar thefts,” said Addison. “He confronted the suspects and they fled in a grey hatchback with Manitoba license plates.”
Unfortunately, another East Van resident wasn’t as lucky.
The 61-year-old man was walking near Joyce Street and Vanness Avenue around 3 p.m. Monday when a man and woman in a white SUV approached, claiming they needed money to feed their children and to purchase a plane ticket to go home.
“The suspects traded fake jewelry for $200 cash and convinced the victim to withdraw thousands more from the bank. They then took him to a nearby grocery store, where he bought the scammers hundreds of dollars in gift cards,” said Addison. “It was only after the suspects were gone that the victim realized the jewelry was fake and that he’d been duped.”
Police point out that jewelry scammers and distraction thieves are not new to East Vancouver, but they continue to thrive by using the element of surprise and convincing people to go against their better judgement. Typically, they use sleight-of-hand distraction techniques to steal valuables from unsuspecting victims, or by trading fake and worthless jewelry for cash.
VPD warns that anyone offering jewelry to a stranger or asking for money in exchange for valuables is likely a scammer. Anyone approached by these thieves should be assertive, tell them to go away, and call police immediately to provide a description of the suspects and their vehicles.