Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Financial Crimes Section are warning residents of a gold scam which has been reported as occurring in other parts of the country and is now occurring in this area.
Affinity fraud is a type of financial scheme that relies on building trust with victims based on shared affiliations and characteristics such as age, race, religion, occupation, etc. In the gold scam, a type of affinity fraud, the suspect(s) work to build trust with victims who are of Chinese descent .
During this type of scam, the suspect(s), who are Chinese and who often work in a group, contact the potential victim (also of Chinese descent) via phone. The incoming call to the victim often shows a phone number originating from China. The scammer, speaking in a dialect of Chinese, states that he needs the victim’s help in some way, like finding a job for someone or needing some other type of support. The scammer arranges to meet the victim to receive help and during the meeting the scammer, sometimes accompanied by a co-conspirator, presents the victim with what the scammers state is real gold (comprised of gold nuggets and Buddha figures) that he says he located while working construction. The scammer also shows the victim a note written in Chinese that supposedly was found with the gold and explains how and why the gold was hidden. The suspect tells the victim that he is undocumented, has no connections in this country and wants to sell the gold and use the money to return to China or help his family in China. The scammer asks that the victim provide the scammer with cash and in return, he will give the victim all of the gold. The scammer states that he will take less than what the gold is worth. If the victim requests it, the scammer will provide him/her with a small gold “sample” to be tested. The small piece of gold is often real. At the end of the final transaction between the scammer and victim, the victim is left with worthless, fake gold and the scammer now has the victim’s cash.
The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) has received two reports of gold scams occurring in the County. The first incident occurred on or about April 24. The resident gave the suspects $20,000 in cash for gold which was tested and determined to be fake. Two suspects have a warrant for their arrest in this case for theft and conspiracy to commit theft: 49-year-old Xiaoping Yang (also known as Ziaoping Yang) and 51-year-old Yinhui Huang of undetermined addresses, both previously charged in Fairfax County for committing this same scam.
In the second incident reported to the MCPD, which occurred on June 11, the potential victim became suspicious of the suspects and before conducting any type of exchange she searched articles online and learned that this was a scam. She then reported the incident to MCPD. Detectives have obtained photographs of the two male suspects in this case. The photographs are from a Gaithersburg restaurant where the two suspects and victim talked about the gold while eating lunch.
The Financial Crimes Section is asking that anyone who recognizes the two unknown suspects (photographs below) or anyone with information about the whereabouts of suspects Ziapong and Huang to call detectives at 240-773-6330. For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the two unknown suspect(s). Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Anyone who believes he/she has been a victim of this scam is asked to call detectives at 240-773-6330.
Note to Media: A Financial Crimes detective is available this afternoon to speak about this scam. Please call the Public Information Office at 240-773-5030 (press 4) to make arrangements for an interview.