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Gold bar scam thwarted


Financial scams involving gold bars have been around for a long time. They typically have about a one percent arrest rate and are difficult to solve because it is hard to find the criminals.

Recently, there has been a rash of gold bar scams targeted at older Douglas County residents. In this variation of the scam, victims are urged over the phone to purchase physical gold bars, because their account has been compromised. The scammers play on the victim’s emotions and promise the gold bars will be deposited in a safe deposit box or indicate that the victim will receive a reimbursement check in the mail for the equivalent amount.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO)’s “Operation I Love Gold” was the most recent sting operation. Deputies arrested two suspects in a Safeway parking lot after working closely with a 76-year-old victim who was pivotal to the investigation.

The victim received a pop-up message on her iPad which told her that her bank account had been compromised and to call the phone number in the message. After making the call, she was transferred to the “bank’s fraud department” and was connected to an “agent” who provided a badge number. He informed her that fraudulent checks from her account had been written for pornography sites and a gag order was in place to freeze her account. The victim was then directed to withdraw money from her account to purchase gold bars.

“No one gets to come to Douglas County, prey on our elderly residents, steal their life savings and get away with it,” Sheriff Darren Weekly said. He praised the doggedness of the lead detective.

DCSO, Castle Rock, Lone Tree and Parker Police Departments created a joint initiative to educate the public about scams. They created an acronym: SCAM to help citizens avoid falling victim. SCAM stands for: Stop, Call a friend, family member, or law enforcement, Ask questions, Make informed decisions, not based on pressure or emotions.

Local law enforcement has some practical tips that focus on trusting your instincts. Be wary if you are feeling rushed, if they ask for payment in unfamiliar or odd ways, or if they tell you it is a secret or not to contact law enforcement. Never give personal information to someone who calls you. Never call the number they provide. When in doubt, talk to a trusted friend, family member or law enforcement.

DCSO has a dedicated deputy for senior resources – Ryan Falkner. One of his primary responsibilities is to educate seniors about how to avoid scams. (See Behind the Badge story on page 12). Falkner is happy to take calls if the public has doubts or questions about someone contacting them unsolicited.

For more information see “Tips to avoid scams” in the June issue or contact Ryan Falkner at, (303) 663-7748,


DCSO has several ways to aid our oldest citizens, with three primary programs: Douglas Senior Safe, Medic Alert, and Angel Sense.

  • Douglas Senior Safe is for independent living and partners with Castle Rock Senior Activity Center (CRSAC). CRSAC volunteers call clients to check in and help keep them engaged in the community. When multiple calls are missed, CRSAC contacts DCSO and Senior Resource Deputy Ryan Falkner will personally check in on the residents.
  • Medic Alert is made possible through a generous donation. DCSO can fund more than 100 Medic Alert services. The first-come, first-served program gives individuals a medical bracelet or necklace that signals first responders to contact Medic Alert to receive detailed medical information, including emergency contacts for the individual in trouble.
  • Angel Sense is a GPS-based program aimed at citizens who tend to wander. Participating individuals wear a tracker so family members can know where they are. DCSO does not track residents but funds the service for those who have loved ones who have gone missing.

By Celeste McNeil; courtesy graphic




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