'Stranded motorist' scams man of $50 with fake gold ring

FRESNO, California -- Kristy Thomas says her cousin was approached at the gas station Sunday afternoon by a driver desperate for cash.

"He really couldn't spare the money, but he really felt the guy needed it," Thomas said. "He had all these kids and an older lady in the vehicle."

Investigators said that man is a prolific scammer they've been chasing up and down the state of California.

He poses as the driver of a broken down SUV with kids inside. If drivers stop, he tries to sell them gold jewelry. If they don't buy, he jumps in front of the car.

"He took it off his finger and said, 'I have this. If you have $50, I'll sell this to you,' and to me, it looks very real," Thomas said.

Thomas said the man told her cousin he was from Dubai and needed money for the ATM.

Her cousin ended up buying a gold ring, only to find out it was a fraud when he took it to a jewelry store.

"It's got to be a scam. If it's too good to be true, you know it's not real," she said.

Investigators believe they are searching for more than one scammer.

It's too early to say if they are working together, or if some may be copycats.

"It's pretty sad, the people who can't afford to give it are still giving it," Thomas said.

This family said they just want to make sure nobody else in the Valley becomes a victim.
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