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Police warning of 'distraction thefts' in Vancouver

In each case fake gold has been used in some way

Police are once again warning people to be on the lookout for 'distraction thefts.'

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is issuing the warning after three recent incidents during which scammers used fake gold as part of different schemes.

In the first (recent) incident on Jan. 28 a person was approached by a man, a woman in a black minivan with three kids in the back seat (aged 3 to 5 years old) at the intersection of East 41 Ave. and Main St. The person was told the apparent family needed to get back to Montreal.

"The suspects drove the victim to the bank where they withdrew $3,000 in exchange for a bag of fake gold," states the press release.

The two adults were described as South Asian and in their 30s.

Two days later the second scam occurred. In this case a man and a woman with a Toyota Camry approached their target asking for gas money. While they were talking one of the suspects put a fake gold necklace around the victim's neck and took the real gold necklace he was wearing off. The man later noticed his chain was missing.

One of the suspects was described as a South Asian man in his 30s with a heavy build.

The most recent incident happened on Saturday, Feb. 6. In this case a man, woman and young boy in a white Jeep Cherokee approached the victim.

They claimed they needed money to move to Alberta.

"The suspects offered to sell the victim gold in exchange for money. The victim withdrew funds from the bank," states the release. "The gold was later determined to be fake."

The suspects were described as being of Middle Eastern descent and again in their 30s, according to the VPD release.

"The male was wearing a blue blazer and dress pants," states the release. "The female was wearing a beige head covering, a dark blue blouse, a long skirt and boots."

Police are reminding people to be vigilant, especially when people offer to sell gold for cash on the street.

"Unfortunately this type of crime has been going on for years in this city,” says VPD Cst.Tania Visintin in the release. “These criminals are using the element of surprise or distraction and are preying on the elderly and vulnerable members of the community.”

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the VPD at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.