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Man nearly becomes latest victim of gas scam

Not every panhandler on the street is in need of money; some look to scam residents out of theirs.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT
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STATELINE (WIFR) - A tale of caution; one local man says you may want to ask a lot of questions before helping someone on the side of the road.

This man, who we will call “Bill”, says he just wanted to help another driver who appeared to be stranded along a busy Rockford road. Bill says he encountered a a man late one night at the entrance of Route 20. That driver asked Bill for $400 for gas to see his family 125 miles away.

“What really affected me is he said he had kids in the car, because I have children. I couldn’t imagine being stranded on the side of the road with kids. And so that really touched my heartstrings. I just felt like I had to help the guy in some way,” says Bill.

The man gave Bill a ring and necklace, claiming they were pure gold. Bill offered to get the man some gas but when Bill returned the man was gone and the jewelry? Fake.

“I called my sister and her boyfriend’s a cop. He’s like, ‘This is a scam. You realize that right?’”

Vice President of Paymaster Pawn and Jewelers in South Beloit, Jason Vandiver, knows this scam all too well. He’s had several customers fall to similar schemes.

“They kind of talk a big game but like, I like to tell the people who walk in here with the gold you know, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says Vandiver.

Bill says he’ll think twice about helping someone in distress and says he’ll no longer carry cash with him in case he’s in this type of situation in the future.

“If I saw somebody on the side of the road again, I just call the police. If they’re really in distress, you know, I’m not gonna- I’m not gonna stop.”

Vandiver says these products, like the pieces of jewelry given to the potential victim, are not 18-karat gold. They are made of brass with a fine polish. The chains are steel with a gold coating.

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