BEND, Ore. - Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said Monday police would like to hear from any other victims of two Bend juveniles accused of selling fake gold bars, and said the charges now also include sales of fake Rolex watches.
"Once we identify all of the victims, we can get a full understanding of the scope of the operation," Hummel said. "Then we can talk about how best to resolve this case, and how we can get all the victims paid back in full."
He said whether or not the two suspects pay full restitution to all the victims will impact if they're tried as adults or juveniles, a decision he has not yet made.
Years ago, it was easy to spot many counterfeit Rolexes because the second hand would tick -- real Rolex second hands move in a sweeping motion. But it's not as easy to tell nowadays.
Saxon's Fine Jewelry Owner Ron Henderson said, "Today there are a lot of mechanical, automatic wound watches where the second hand sweeps, and it makes it a little tougher for the average person to detect."
How can you be sure your Rolex is real?
You can tell by its weight, first of all. Fake ones tend to use lighter materials.
Also, the back of some counterfeits will be see-through -- called a skeleton back. Real Rolexes don't have those. And gold isn't magnetic, so if a magnet sticks to yours, it's probably fake.
Some things to look out for in a market filled with dishonest dealers.
"People will always be looking for a better deal," Henderson said. "They'll always be looking for an angle. And unfortunately, there will always be somebody willing to take advantage of you."
If you purchased any of these fraudulent items, even if you have since sold the item, you're asked to call the Bend Police Department at 541-322-2960.
Here's the initial story, from March 21:
Two Bend teens are in hot water over fake gold, arrested by Bend police on charges of buying artificial but realistic gold bars online, then making more than $50,000 by selling them to other locals who also had gone online, looking to buy the expensive metal.
The 17-year-old boys were arrested Tuesday on several charges, including aggravated theft by deception and conspiracy, first-degree theft by deception or false pretenses, felony computer crime and felony criminal conspiracy, said Bend police Lt. Clint Burleigh. One of the two teens, who were not named, also is charged with money laundering.
Police received initial reports on Feb. 24 regarding gold bars being sold online, Burleigh said.
An investigation found the pair used online sites to buy artificial “Perth Mint” and “Royal Canadian Mint” gold bars that resembled authentic ones, he said.
“The juveniles were sophisticated and used multiple ways to conceal their identity and scheme,” Burleigh said in a news release.
The teens were able to identify local residents interested in buying gold through Craigslist and set up meetings to make the transactions, he said.
Burleigh noted that “several officers and detectives spent a substantial amount of investigative time on this case,” locating, interviewing and arresting the juveniles.
The teens received over $50,000 in cash and other goods for the artificial gold, and officers were able to recover some of that money, Burleigh said. Police have identified four victims, three Bend men and one from Redmond.
Bend police asked the community to contact them if they bought Royal Canadian Mint or Perth Mint gold bars from someone other than a dealer between last July and March 21 of this year. Anyone with information about buying or asking to buy such gold bars was asked to call police at 541-693-6911.
Bend police also warned citizens to beware “buying precious metals and gems from unknown persons,” and to instead contact “reputable dealers in the area.”
“We also want citizens to be diligent regarding who they are communicating with online before setting up a meeting,” Burleigh added.