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Roadside gold scammers return to Tri-Cities. How you can help stop them

In World
June 12, 2024

Scammers trying to sell low-cost gold jewelry at high prices were seen again Monday along some Tri-Cities area highways.

A Washington State Patrol trooper spotted two men next to a rented Escalade pickup who were walking in and out of traffic near the intersection of Interstate 182 and Highway 395 on Monday afternoon, Trooper Chris Thorson told the Tri-City Herald.

The men, ages 49 and 28, were telling passing motorists that they had car problems and were selling jewelry to raise money for their repairs, Thorson said.

It’s believed they are part of the same group who stalked Tri-Cities highways and interstates last fall.

They dress well and tell intended victims that they’ve run out of gas or have car issues and need to get some cash quickly to get back home. In exchange, they’ll sell them electronics, jewelry or watches.

Typically, the scam artists are aggressive and demand cash, Thorson said.

While the prices seem good, the buyers often learn later that they paid hundreds of dollars for items worth only a small fraction of the price.

On Monday, the men were standing next to a rented Escalade from out of the state. Their driver’s licenses also said they had come from outside Washington — one from New York and the other from Florida.

The trooper confiscated their collection of chains, rings and watches.

A suspected roadside scam selling inexpensive gold jewelry for high prices returned to the Tri-Cities on Monday.

A suspected roadside scam selling inexpensive gold jewelry for high prices returned to the Tri-Cities on Monday.

While investigators didn’t have enough information at that moment to arrest the men, they are continuing to investigate and asking for help from the public to build a case.

In the past, the alleged scammers were Eastern European or Romanian immigrants, who rented high-end vehicles from out of state and stopped on the side of the highway in Tri-Cities, often at an off-ramp.

They were seen last fall in Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, Benton City and Prosser, as well as other places across Eastern Washington.

Troopers had some difficulty catching them last year because the suspects would be gone before troopers arrived.

Troopers are asking anyone who has been a victim of the scam to contact WSP at 509-239-6742 and refer to case no. 23-017971.

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