SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A City Heights pawn shop owner says he is seeing an increase in the number of people trying to sell fake gold for cash this holiday season.
Moris Adato, president of CashCo Pawn, said he is turning people away for trying to sell fake gold three to four times a week. He says with stimulus benefits ending, San Diegans are also pawning more items for basic necessities while small business owners are doing the same to make payroll.
Meanwhile, last month, the Chula Vista Police Department issued a warning about fake gold scams in mall parking lots. Adato said scammers will appeal to people's emotions, telling potential victims that they will sell the jewelry at a deep discount so they can put food on the table for their children or for gas to get home. In some cases, they will sell the rings right off their fingers.
"Whenever there's a big month of that happening, we get more throughout the week, and it's been happening this month plenty," Adato said. "They think they bought a $1,000 item for 100 bucks. They come to sell it thinking they're going to get $300 to $400 for it and... not real."
In his decades in the business, Adato has seen fake Nike shoes, Louis Vuitton bags and pieces of art. When a seller comes in, workers test the items. In the case of fake gold, Adato will do a scratch test with acid, or put the acid right on the piece of jewelry. If it bubbles green, it's fake.
"The holiday season is a really big time for the scammers and the con-artists out there," he said.
As a rule of thumb, Adato said if it's too good to be true, it's fake. He said CashCo will do the jewelry testing for free, so one option is to ask the seller to come into the shop for the acid test. Adato said if the seller won't agree, it's probably a scam.
The Chula Vista Police Department tells ABC-10 they are continuing to work the jewelry scam case and are communicating with other law enforcement agencies in Southern California where similar thefts occurred.