EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Community members who may be trying to help those in need, are actually being swindled for money. Police say what appears to be a family in need is actually scammers trying to sell “expensive” jewelry that turns out to be fake.
“Since 2022, we’ve taken a number of reports on scams like this where a family or or adults will pretend to be in some kind of distress and may have run out of gas or need vehicle repairs. And they’ll offer to sell some jewelry for very discounted rates in order to get some fast cash,” Josh Miller, Eau Claire Police Department public information officer, said.
Keith Dillinger, co-owner of Me-No-Monie Pawn and Loan shop in Eau Claire, said it’s a shame generous people are being targeted.
“I’ve seen people get scammed for, I mean, anywhere from $10 up to $600 to $700. Most of them are just good Samaritans trying to help. And that’s what drives me crazy about this whole thing, is that there are these people are targeting people that are willing to help other people,” Dillinger said.
At least six of these scams have been reported to Eau Claire police, but local pawn shops claim the problem is much worse.
“We spoke with our competitors and they’re getting the same thing just as much as we are,” Dillinger said.
Dillinger said the scammers seem to move around a lot, but every few months people come back with fake jewelry.
“We just start seeing people bringing in jewelry that the rings often look like this. And the necklaces look like this. It’s to somebody who’s been buying and selling jewelry. To me, this just screams fake. They move on to the next town, I think, when everybody starts catching on,” Dillinger said.
If caught, the scammers could potentially face criminal consequences.
“They could face some kind of fraud charge if they’re masquerading, selling something that they know is not the actual product,” Miller said.
“I’m just more concerned about the people getting scammed. I mean, I’m seeing these people, the look on their faces, and sometimes it’s pretty sad,” Dillinger said.
“People around here have a reputation for being generous. And unfortunately, people want to take advantage of that,” Miller said.
Miller and Dillinger advise people to not take the risk and say if a deal is too good to be true it probably is.
Dillinger said you can always test jewelry to see if it’s fake by using a magnet. Real gold will not stick to it.
The Cornell Police Department also made a post on Facebook last week warning about the scam happening there too.
If you come across people trying to sell the fake jewelry, call your local police department.