Anchorage police warn public about good Samaritan jewelry scam

Group claims they’re foreigners in need of quick cash so they can get back home
Police say a group of scammers is claiming to be foreigners in need of quick cash so they can get back home.
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 7:05 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Police Department is warning the public about an elaborate jewelry scam that preys upon the trust of good Samaritans.

The scammers pose as foreigners — who claim to be down on their luck, in need of selling their jewelry so they can secure some quick cash. APD says a group of at least four people have already targeted victims throughout Anchorage and Eagle River.

The problem is, that jewelry is fake.

According to the APD, the group uses a unique ruse in which one of the suspects will approach a person and ask them to buy their jewelry. They say they can’t sell it on their own — claiming that because they’re foreigners all the local shopkeepers have turned them down.

The suspects are described as a group of well-dressed men and women who appear in various places, claiming they need the money to travel.

“The suspects have approached our victims in a couple of different ways, either in a parking lot or the other ruse has been the suspect has been on the side of the road with a vehicle that they claim is broken down,” Public Information Officer Renee Oistad said.

According to police, when someone does express interest in helping the group, the suspects try selling them an emotional yet fictitious tale, hoping the person will buy it.

“That’s when they give their story to someone who stops to give them a hand,” Oistad said. “That they’re stuck here, and they need to sell their jewelry so that they can get money to go home. And they are not asking for small amounts of money. It’s not five or ten dollars, it’s several hundreds and several thousands of dollars, and people are giving it.”

The victims who fall for the scheme eventually realize the jewelry they purchased is fake.

“When the victims go to resell the jewelry, that’s when they find out it’s not the jewelry, it’s just junk,” Oistad said.

Police say about a dozen people have reportedly fallen for this scam and lost thousands of dollars. APD says the suspects use the same vehicle for a day or two, then swap it out for a different one.

The department is asking anyone who has been approached by these suspects to fill out an online report. If approached by these suspects, police say not to engage with them but to call non-emergency dispatch at 3-1-1 (option #1) or 907-786-8900 (option #0) and report the suspect’s current location.