‘It didn’t sound right:’ Man almost falls victim to fake gold jewelry scam in North Idaho

KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office wants you to be aware of a scam in the area involving fake gold jewelry. Some people have been scammed out of hundreds of dollars.

One North Idaho man was seconds away from pulling more than $1,000 out of his bank. Norm Apfel has never been a victim of a scam.

He was at a Sagle gas station when a man in an SUV waved him over.

“He was wondering if I could help him out,” Apfel said. “He needed money for food for his wife and kids.”

When Apfel offered cash, he said the man wanted more and started showing him a lot of jewelry.

“He gave me a ring, a big ol’ gold ring. It looked like diamonds, but probably wasn’t,” Apfel explained.

This same scenario is happening around North Idaho. According to the sheriff’s office, there have been reports that a well-dressed, Middle Eastern man is at local gas stations wearing a lot of gold jewelry and driving a black GMC Denali. The Sheriff’s Office says he claims to be out of gas and wants to sell jewelry.

“His story sounded real, but it sounded kinda shady as well,” Apfel said.

The sheriff’s office said one person bought $700 worth in Athol and later found out from a Hayden pawn shop the jewelry was fake. The pawn shop said around 10 other people came in with a similar story.

Apfel was close to being a victim. He wanted to help so he said he would go to the bank in Sandpoint and get $1,500 out.

“He said he would follow me. It’s kinda suspicious so I said whatever though,” he said.

When they both got to the bank, the man gave Apfel several pieces of jewelry before going inside.

Norm walked into the bank alone and started talking to the tellers. He knows them well and showed them the jewelry.

“They said Norm, just don’t do it,” the tellers told Apfel. “It sounds too good to be true. I said, yeah, it does too good to be true. ”

He listened to them and gave the man the jewelry back outside. When Apfel offered to take him to a pawn shop, the man said no and drove off.

“I maybe wanted to help him out a little bit because that’s who I am, but I’m glad I didn’t,” he said. “Be very careful and don’t buy jewelry off someone off the street because more than likely it’s not real.”

In another report to the Sheriff’s Office, a man with a similar description was seen driving a dark blue BMW. He was with a young woman and claimed he needed to feed his kids. The person, in this case, paid $470 for the fake jewelry in Hayden.

If it seems too good to be true — it probably is. Also, never give someone money in exchange for jewelry. If you see anything suspicious like this, call your local police department.