Police alert public about two jewellery scam incidents in East Vancouver

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      Thanks to both pandemic restrictions easing and warmer weather, more people are out and about. Unfortunately, among them are scammers as some individuals discovered in two separate incidents.

      The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) stated today (June 15) that two jewellery scams took place in the afternoon on June 14, and that there may be connections between the cases.

      When a 51-year-old man was walking near Commercial Drive and Napier Street, a man and a woman called him over to a parked car. They showed him some jewellery and tried to sell it to him.

      However, the man, who had seen similar cases on the news, recognized it as a scam and confronted the suspects.

      The suspects took off in a grey hatchback with Manitoba license plates.  

      In a separate incident around 3 p.m., a 61-year-old man was walking near Joyce Street and Vanness Avenue when a man and a woman in a white SUV approached him.

      They claimed that they needed money to feed their children and to purchase a plane ticket to return home.

      According to VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison, the suspects traded fake jewellery for $200 in cash and then convinced the victim to withdraw thousands of more dollars from the bank.

      They subsequently took him to a grocery store where he bought the two suspects hundreds of dollars in gift cards.

      After the suspects left, the victim discovered that the jewelry was fake.

      Jewellery scams and distraction thefts have been taking place in Metro Vancouver for several years now, particularly in East and South Vancouver, and some cases are believed to be linked to organized crime groups. 

      In April, the VPD reported an increase in jewellery scams from three in January to 15 in March, for a total of 30 by April 1.

      Some examples from earlier this year that the VPD previously provided were:

      • in January, a 57-year-old man at a bus stop near Main Street and East 41st Avenue was approached by a man and woman, with three children, in a black Toyota Sienna. They said they were desperate for money to get back to Montreal. They convinced the victim to withdraw $3,000 from the bank in exchange for what turned out to be fake jewellery.
      • a woman was walking near Kingsway and Joyce Street in February when a brown sedan pulled up beside her and woman got out, approached the 63-year-old victim, and put a chain around her neck. The victim refused the offer and told the woman to go away, but later the victim realized her necklace was gone.
      • in March, a 56-year-old woman was walking her dog near Fraser Street and East 33rd Avenue when a woman got out of a car, approached her, and claimed the victim reminded her of her dead mother. The scammer tried to put a fake necklace around the victim’s neck, hugged her, and—unbeknownst to the victim—removed the victim’s necklace and bracelet. The victim went home and told family members, but the suspects were gone by the time they called police.

      The VPD warns that anyone offering jewellery or asking for money in exchange for valuables is most likely a scammer and that individuals who are approached should be assertive, tell the strangers to go away, and call police immediately with a description of the suspects and any involved vehicles.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.