MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Mid-South man who says he was the victim of a scam involving a gas station and jewelry is warning others not to fall for the same thing.
The man didn’t want to show his face but wanted to tell his story.
“Happened about three weeks ago,” the victim said. “About an hour before, I had prayed. I am homeless. I have been through a difficult time the last few years.”
It all started when he was in the parking lot at a gas station along I-40 in Fayette County.
“A couple approached me in their car. He said he lost his wallet, and he had said, ‘I confess I’m a gambler,'” he said.
Then they proposed a deal.
“They said, ‘Maybe we can help each other.’ He offered me a couple of rings and a necklace,” he said. “They said it was worth $1,000.”
Thinking his prayers had been answered, he gave the couple $120 and went to Accent Jewelers on Poplar in Memphis to get it appraised, where operations manager Will Bass was the bearer of bad news.
“They are stamped. They look the part, they feel the part,” Bass said.
But they aren’t the part. It was all cheap brass coated in gold. Bass said people from all over Shelby County have started bringing in the same jewelry more frequently.
“It could be as many as a few times a week to a couple times a day sometimes,” Bass said. “We’ll call them gas station rings, because a lot of the stories come from gas stations.”
Bass says the stories all sound the same. Someone is approached in their car or at the pump, they’re told a story that tugs on their heart strings, and they’re offered what looks to be valuable gold rings and necklaces.
But the jewelry clings to a magnet, which gold doesn’t do. Acid strips the gold coating off, showing a cheap metal underneath.
“If it seems to be too good to be true, it usually is,” Bass said.
WREG investigators found reports of similar scams happening in places as far away as Canada. We asked Memphis Police and Shelby County Sheriff’s office about it, but they hadn’t heard about it.
“I was a bit naïve, I guess,” the victim said.
The victim we spoke to said he didn’t contact police. He’s just chalking this one up as a learning lesson.
“Well, I know there are people out there that take advantage of people,” he said.
They took advantage of him even when he told them he was homeless and in bind himself.
“I had $7 left in my wallet. I didn’t eat for a week. It was pretty bad,” the victim said.
That day he’d prayed for help. Now he’s praying that others don’t fall victim too.
Bass said don’t be fooled by the quality stamp on the jewelry because that can be forged. Also, it shouldn’t have any kind of brassy hue to it.