The use of young children as accomplices in a gold jewelry scam has cost victims in the West Shore area thousands after falling prey to an elaborate and heartbreaking con.
Langford jeweler Cory Kowalchuk has seen his fair share of gold over the years. But in the last four months, he’s noticed a disturbing trend among customers at Westshore Jewelry.
“About four months ago people started coming in with pieces of jewelry usually made of brass, they’re all stamped 18K and they’re all false,” Kowalchuk told CHEK News Wednesday.
Kowalchuk said about 40 people have come in trying to confirm if the gold jewelry they had bought was real. He said each story is the same: the victim is approached in a West Shore parking lot by a couple with two young children and a heartbreaking story.
“The people are saying that they need to get to the ferry can you please help us, we lost our wallet, our car was broken into, we’ve got this gold will you trade it for cash? We need to get our family back to the Lower Mainland,” he said.
He said the victims he’s spoken to reported handing over anywhere from $200 to $700 dollars.
“Which accounts for roughly, we did the math this morning, about $20,000 taken from the community, from working people in our community,” Kowalchuk said.
Langford jeweller Cory Kowalchuk says he’s seen dozens of people fall prey to a scam using children to deceive victims in recent weeks. April 12, 2023.
RCMP say the fraud isn’t isolated to the West Shore. Similar scams have been reported over the last few years in places like Victoria, Saanich and on the Lower Mainland. And police say the scammers are particularly good at preying on people’s emotions.
“The fraudsters are trying to draw you in with an emotional story they may even be emotional, they’re crying, they’re trying to sell it to you basically and tell you ‘I’m in a really bad position here, can you help me out?” said West Shore RCMP Cpl. Nancy Saggar.
Despite the 40 or so people who’ve gone to Westshore Jewelry with their fake gold over the past few months, Saggar said only one official report has been filed to date. She’s urging anyone who’s been a victim of this type of scam to report it as soon as possible.
“Yes, you may feel embarrassed but the end goal here is stop someone else from being victimized so please come forward.”
Kowlachuk said witnesses have described the jewelry scam suspects as a French Canadian couple with two children in the vehicle ranging in age from 5 to 10. He said they’ve been spotted driving one vehicle with Quebec plates and another with Ontario plates.
If you’ve been approached or have any information you’re urged to contact West Shore RCMP.