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Scammers peddling fake gold target people in public places in Billings area

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Aug 22, 2022

BILLINGS — It seems like scammers take no days off whether over the phone or in person. Scammers in Billings are hoping to strike it rich by peddling fool’s gold.

If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

“It happens all the time,” said Lockwood resident Steve Kleinsasser on Sunday.

Kleinsasser didn’t know what to expect when he was approached by a man last week while fueling up at an area gas station.

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“He’s like, he needs cash, and I’m like, how much do you want? And he’s like, 500 bucks,” Kleinsasser said.

The man told Kleinsasser he needed gas to get home to Chicago. Kleinsasser offered to fill up his tank multiple times.

“He’s like, no, he needs cash, and he pulled off a ring. You know, that big gold ring. And when you did look at it, it said 18 karat gold on it,” said Kleinsasser.

He noticed red flags from the beginning and said the man was driving a brand new vehicle and was wearing nice clothes.

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“I asked him what the ring is worth and he’s like, well it’s probably a couple grand. Well, who would give a couple thousand dollar ring to someone?” said Kleinsasser.

He said the man pulled a gold chain off his neck and tried to sell that as well. He said the man even held the ring and chain up to a magnet in his car to convince Kleinsasser it was real. That’s when Kleinsasser had the man follow him to a pawn shop in the Heights to authenticate the jewelry.

“When we got to the pawn shop, I could tell. You know, he wouldn’t give me the ring,” Kleinsasser said.

It turns out, it was a scam. Incidents like this have been happening more frequently in recent months.

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Andy Nelson owns Western Pawnbrokers downtown and has also encountered those scammers trying to pawn fake gold.

“They’ll play kind of dumb like they didn’t know that it wasn’t, or they’ll act like they got scammed but it’s really them trying to pass the scam on,” Nelson said.

While most scammers aren’t reported to law enforcement, the Billings Police Department said there have been two reports in recent weeks of scammers peddling gold in public places.

“I’m just tired of it, you know. Go out and make a living working, not scamming people,” said Kleinsasser.