A Phoenix woman lost $550 in a fake diamond scam in a Walmart parking lot on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old victim was on her way into the Walmart in south Medford when she was approached by a woman claiming that she needed help after her husband's hit-and-run accident.
The woman claimed her husband was hit by a vehicle and that a bag of diamonds fell out of the car before it sped away. The woman then produced what appeared to be a bag of diamonds.
Meanwhile, another woman standing nearby acted as if he overheard the conversation and approached the woman. She said that a friend of hers who works inside the Walmart pays good money for diamonds.
She then took one of the diamonds and entered the store. She came out with a large roll of cash, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
"Obviously, these women were in cahoots," Budreau said.
The victim was impressed by how quickly the diamonds were converted to cash. She agreed to give the scammers a ride to her home in Phoenix so she could get some money.
"She managed to dig up $550 and gave it to the suspects," Budreau said. "The suspects wanted her to buy the whole bag, but she said she could not afford that."
The suspects agreed to sell her one diamond. The victim then gave the women rides to separate locations.
"She dropped them off within blocks of each other, which she thought was strange," Budreau said. "It then started to dawn on her that she was taken advantage of."
The woman soon discovered the diamonds were fake and essentially worthless.
The Oregonian reported that a similar scam occurred on April 1 in Beaverton. In that case, two women with a bag of fake diamonds approached a victim shopping at a Goodwill. One of the women gave the victim a story that closely matches the one told outside the Medford Walmart.
The Oregonian reported that the Beaverton victim handed over $1,500 for a fake diamond.
Budreau said these types of scams roll through Medford at various times throughout the year. They are often perpetrated by groups traveling up and down Interstate 5.
"There's several variations of this scam," Budreau said. "Sometimes they involve gold or other precious metals."
Local detectives are working with Walmart to obtain surveillance video of the suspects, Budreau said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.