A worldwide scam centred on “Chinese gold” or “buried treasure” could be making a reappearance in Richmond.
Authorities in the U.S. have been in contact with Richmond RCMP, after several U.S.-based reports indicated the scam is once again gaining traction across the border.
Based on these reports, Richmond RCMP said scammers may be using new variations of the con, evolved from prior contact with law enforcement agencies.
The scam typically utilizes props such as gold Buddha statues, gold ingots, or an ancient letter or will. Scammers primarily target native Mandarin speakers, making contact with their victims either by visiting them or phoning them, according to the RCMP.
People thought to have a good financial standing are also targeted at random.
Richmond RCMP said that, historically, scammers visit practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, “feigning illness due to the stress of having discovered a will/letter and a quantity of gold at a construction site.”
The scammer typically claims to be a construction worker with no legal status in the country, and that they unearthed the “buried treasure” while working.
After this introduction, the scammer asks the victim for help and offers to sell the gold for a “fraction of market pricing,” according to Richmond Mounties.
Often, there is more than one individual involved in the scam, as the original scammer will need others to assist them in “authenticating” the gold, in a meeting they set up with the victim.
The victim is also invited to have the gold inspected independently — the con artists will provide a piece of real gold apparently sawed off one of the ingots.
The victim then arranges to pay the scammers in cash for the gold. Once they’ve received the funds, they flee the country or region, said Richmond RCMP.
Richmond Mounties conducted successful investigations against the scam in 2015 and 2017.
In 2015, Bao Sheng Zhong, a Chinese national, was arrested and charged by Richmond Mounties for a scheme involving fake, purportedly-ancient Chinese gold Buddha figurines and ingots.
Zhong was ultimately convicted and deported to China.
In January 2018, Richmond RCMP arrested and charged Dejin Xu and Zhong Yang — also Chinese nationals — in connection to a similar scam.
Through their investigations, Richmond RCMP have assisted law enforcement agencies worldwide.
The fake Chinese gold scheme first appeared in Richmond in 2010. It has since appeared in various iterations around the world.