Gary Greenspoon found his car battery dead Thursday morning just as he was trying to get to a medical appointment but that’s by no means the worst thing that happened to him this week.
He was in the parking lot at Thrifty Foods on Hillside Avenue Tuesday evening when a man with a wife and two young kids in the car struck up a conversation, saying he had just moved here from Serbia and had no money.
“And then he pulls out a very large chain, I’m not into gold but it looked too ‘goldish’ to be real gold, and a big ring,” he said.
Greenspoon suggested they get the jewelry assessed before he gave them any money, so the couple changed tactics saying they lost their wallet and needed money for food. He offered to loan them $300 but would only pay for the groceries at the check out. So the woman accompanied Greenspoon in the store and started shopping.
“I even suggest ‘how about some ice cream for the kids, how about some mandarin for the kids?’ I said how about ‘do they like apples?’ She said ‘oh they’re so expensive, they’re $10,’ I say ‘don’t worry about it, put it in.'”
The bill came to $301 and Greenspoon threw in yet another $20 for gas. He now realizes he will never be paid back and that it was all a scam.
“It’s not going to hurt me, the money, what hurts the most is the deception.”
On Wednesday a West Shore jewelry store owner told CHEK News he had had roughly 40 people in his store trying to get gold assessed that turned out to be fake. They all shared a similar story to Greenspoons, with a few changes.
“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,” said Westshore Jewelry owner Cory Kowalchuk.
“This is actually a scam that isn’t just local here to us, we have heard about it in other places, although it’s definitely popping up here,” said West Shore RCMP Corp. Nancy Saggar.
Victoria police told CHEK News Thursday that they too received a report of a similar scam downtown last week, where another senior handed over $2,000 for gold jewelry that later turned out to be fake.
Gary Greenspoon isn’t surprised so many people are falling for the story.
“I’m an unusually decent person but to do this in front of kids, to do this in front of kids who are 8-years-old, I believed them, she was so good,” he said.
He describes the suspects as a couple in their early 40’s with accents driving a silver SUV with tinted windows. The woman is short and heavyset wearing a headscarf and the children are between the ages of five and ten. If you’ve been approached you’re urged to report it to police.
READ MORE: Children used to deceive West Shore victims in disturbing twist on gold jewelry scam