The Edmonton Police Service issued a warning Monday about a counterfeit gold scam in the city after an investigation uncovered thousands of dollars in fake gold bars that have also shown up elsewhere in western Canada.
Police began investigating after receiving information late last year regarding the sale of suspected counterfeit gold bars to various merchants in Edmonton.
“We tested the product for authenticity and quickly determined these gold bars were nothing more than copper bars plated in gold,” EPS Criminal Investigation Section Const. Robert Wellon said.
Police said they have recovered a total of 220 grams of counterfeit gold with a market value of $10,000. The bars appeared to be professionally packaged and authentic.
The counterfeit gold bars are being sold in various weight denominations and range in price. They weigh between 10 and 31 grams per piece and suspects are selling them for anywhere between $300 and $800 each.
Wellon said, in reality, the gold-plated copper bars are only worth about a dollar.
“There have been approximately 20 sales transactions involving the counterfeit gold here in Edmonton alone,” Wellon said.
He said while stores are typically the target, police are now starting to see fake gold bars being sold online through buy-and-sell websites such as Kijiji.
Wellon confirmed the bars in Edmonton match those circulating in other Canadian cities.
“We don’t know exactly where they are coming from,” Wellon said. “We believe they might be coming from overseas and purchased off the internet.”
Last month, RCMP in Saskatchewan said they were actively investigating fake gold sales complaints in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A traffic stop east of Regina resulted in the arrest of three men and the seizure of 32 pieces of counterfeit gold and platinum with a street value of between $50,000 and $100,000.
Late last month, Winnipeg police issued a similar warning regarding gold bars. The one-ounce bars were stamped with either “Perth Mint” or “Produits Artistiques Mateaux Precieux” from Switzerland.
“This is the first time I’ve seen the counterfeit gold bars,” Wellon said. “I first became aware of them just before Christmas through the Winnipeg instances. This is the first time we’ve seen it here in Edmonton, that I am aware of.”
People are warned to be cautious if they are approached by someone selling gold bars. Police encouraged all buyers and merchants to ask questions and request a receipt from the seller.
With files from David Giles and Riley Martin, Global News