CHULA VISTA, Calif. — It’s something that Chris Altbaum has seen many times here at Coin Mart Jewelry in Chula Vista. Someone comes in looking to appraise what they think is a solid gold medallion.
"For us it's easy to identify," said Altbaum. "But for the average person, no. Especially nowadays, they counterfeit pretty much everything."
Fortunately, Altbaum has something called a "Spectrometer," that can determine what it’s really made of.
It’s not just the same fake pieces of gold, but the story that goes along with it.
"They bought it off a family or a person in some parking lot that said they needed money for gas, food, rent, you name it," said Altbaum. "People are good natured, so usually they give up some money for whatever they're being offered."
Down the street, Detective Katelin Rudolph and the Chula Vista Police Department have opened an investigation looking into a recent rash of robberies and frauds involving people selling fake jewelry.
"The suspects are targeting mostly shopping center parking lots," said Rudolph. "Occasionally, they have used young children saying that they need to get their children food or they need to get home and are out of gas."
She says that on some occasions, the ruse has escalated in strong armed robbery.
Right now, the Chula Vista Police Department wants the community to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behavior.
"So we're advising our community to just be vigilant, especially in these shopping center parking lots," said Rudolph. "So just be wary of who's asking for help if it seems suspicious, if it doesn't feel right. It isn't right. Trust your gut."
And when you’re shopping for jewelry, just remember that not everything that glitters, is gold.
"Buy from a professional, buy from a trusted source," said Altbaum. "Don't be buying off the street. Whenever you're buying off the street, you're running huge risks. Unnecessary risks."
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