Chinese national charged in phony gold scheme
B.C. Mounties have arrested a 44-year-old Chinese national accused of bilking locals into buying fake gold ingots and Buddha figurines.
The victims were befriended by a man claiming to be from the construction industry, who told them he’d unearthed the treasures by chance along with an ancient will.
It’s unclear how many people the alleged fraudster approached, but the RCMP said two women and a man from across the Lower Mainland were tricked into paying for the phony gold.
Mounties said similar crimes have been reported in other parts of the world, including Japan, Singapore and the U.S., but this appears to be the first case in Canada.
“We pulled all the stops. We hated seeing this type of crime occurring in our backyard,” Const. Jon Francis of the Richmond RCMP Economic Crime Unit said in a statement.
The victims tested the ingots before buying them, but the RCMP said the scammer managed to switch in a sample of authentic gold using sleight of hand.
Anyone purchasing high-value gold items is urged to have them individually tested by an independent testing facility, and to obtain legal counsel for their protection.
The accused, Bao Sheng Zhong, is charged with three counts of fraud. The RCMP said Zhong is a Chinese citizen who has been living in Richmond.