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B.C. man loses $20,000 in jewelry 'emergency scam'

'I began to trust them so much, they were so believable, they pulled up like a family with little kids,' said the victim from Kelowna.
Kelowna Jewelry scam
A jewelry scam involving a Rolex watch, gold rings and chains left a Kelowna man $20,000 in the hole,, RCMP is warning the public to be informed and alert.

A Kelowna man was scammed out of $20,000 after being approached by a family who told him they were trying to raise money to get back home to the Middle East by selling expensive jewelry.

The individual said they were approached on Saturday, Jan. 8 at the TD bank in the Spall Plaza by an unknown man accompanied by a woman and two young kids. They said they had lost their wallets and are trying to get back home to Abu Dhabi.

The scammer offered the Kelowna resident several pieces of jewelry including three Rolex watches, two gold rings and two gold chains.

“All the jewelry was real, I checked it myself, it was worth a lot of money,” said the man, who would like to remain anonymous.

The scam victim believes when he went into the bank to withdraw the money for the family, they switched out the real jewelry for fake pieces, which he did not notice until it was too late.

Once the man realized they had been scammed, he immediately reported it to the police.

The victim attended three banks in Kelowna and paid the man in prepaid credit cards and cash in exchange for the jewelry.

“I began to trust them so much, they were so believable, they pulled up like a family with little kids,” he said.

“The man told me he was blessing me and that he would pay me back.”

The scammer told the victim that his family were millionaires back home, but they lost their wallets and couldn’t pay for a flight.

“These people were really professional the way they got me, I actually withdrew the money out of the bank machine and gave it to them… They were talking like they were from Dubai, with accents,” said the individual.

“They didn’t ask for anything much at first, just a little bit to help and then once I did that they started giving me their gold and Rolex watches…they sucked me in, I wanted to get them back to Dubai.”

Police are investigating.

“This is an example of the 'emergency' scam when fraudsters will use a scenario such as they need assistance to return to a foreign country, or they have a family member who is ill and they need money,” said Cpl. Tammy Lobb of the Kelowna RCMP.

“The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be informed and alert.”

To get informed about the most common scams and how to protect yourself, visit the government's scams and frauds website.