Law enforcement on the lookout for a con artist who used fake gold to scam pawn shops in Albany, Valdosta and two shops in Florida; investigators call it "bait and trap."
"You don't see it as much as you used to in the old days but it's still performed and if someone is really good they can get away with it," says Capt. Craig Dodd with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office. "They can get you into all kinds of conversations about all kinds of different things. They're very much like a pick pocket where the pick pocket bumps you, distracts you in some way and they're in your pocket."
Investigators with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office say the scammer gets the real gold tested, then puts it back in his pocket where he swaps it with the fake gold and takes the shop's money. Investigators say We Buy Gold in Valdosta lost $9,000 because of this scam and Albany Gold and Silver Buyers lost $8,000 from it.
Nicole Mitchell says there has never had an incident like it Albany Gold and Silver Buyers.
"He was really aggressive. ... He was sitting there telling us that his house burned down," she says. "Most people who have stolen goods or are shady, they usually don't haggle on a price."
The incident at Albany Gold and Silver Buyers happened early Wednesday afternoon, just two hours after the con artist used fake gold to get money from the Valdosta store.
"He didn't accept the first offer so he pulled it off the counter, put it in his pocket, swapped it out for the fake stuff and then put the fake stuff back on the counter whenever he agreed to the second price," says Mitchell.
Dodd says another employee helping with the transaction had the scammer follow him to the bank to get the money because there was not enough cash in the store.
"He paid him and was supposed to follow him back to the store to finalize all of the paperwork but at some point peeled off," says Dodd.
Because of this incident, Albany Gold and Silver Buyers says they TMre improving their buying process. They say instead of waiting until the end of the transaction to fill out paperwork, customers will give their information and thumbprint on the paperwork before even starting to test the gold.
"That way we have the dude's information instead of it just being a picture on surveillance we'll have his thumbprint and stuff like that too," says Mitchell.
The Dougherty County Sheriff's Office is looking for a heavy set black male, approximately 5'10" with gold teeth. Investigators say he and his partner drove off in a burgundy, newer model Kia Optima; they say they traced Florida plates on the car to a different vehicle.
Anyone with information on this individual is asked to contact Lt. Anita Allen at the Dougherty County Sheriff TMs Office at (229) 431-3222.