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Can you spot the difference between real and fake gold? | FOX43 Finds Out

An old scam is finding new victims in parking lots.

SHREWSBURY, Pa. — Douglas Brent, a jeweler at Alexander's Jewelry in York County has an easy reminder for a golden rule: "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is."

He's found himself reminding plenty of his customers of that phrase at his Shrewsbury shop lately. 

"In the past 10 days, we've had six different people come in with jewelry, and they always just want to know, 'Hey is this real?'" said Brent. 

That jewelry is part of a scam that has been around for years but has been popping up more recently in south central Pennsylvania.

People say the scam starts in a parking lot. They put their groceries away in the car, and then suddenly someone will approach them with a sob story like they can't afford gas or groceries. Then, the scammer trades a piece of jewelry for that gas money, with victims forking over anywhere from $50 to $200. 

However, the so-called gold is worth nothing. At most, Brent said, it's worth about 50 cents, whereas real gold chain necklaces would cost you thousands of dollars. 

Brent said he can tell the difference just by holding it and by performing an acid test. For the average eye, it's not that easy.

Here's an easier way to make sure you can spot the scam: never give someone money in exchange for jewelry. If it was really worth something, don't you think they would pawn it themselves?

Police say catching these scammers is nearly impossible because people don't report what happened until days later when they find out the jewelry is fake.

Instead, officials say if you see something like this happening in a parking lot, or if you're approached, get in your car and call 911 right away. Time is especially important since the scammers will typically target parking lots that are near a main highway for an easy getaway.

If you have a story you want Jackie De Tore to look into, FOX43 wants to find out. Send her a message on Facebook or send an email to FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com.    

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