A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam

A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam
The tall guy will talk

A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam
The short guy will steal


Two man walked into a family-owned jewelry store in Denver, Colorado with a bag of gold they wanted to sell. They said they had a family emergency and needed money right away.

Myra Munoz and her mother weighed the 445 grams of gold and tested it to make sure it was real, then gave the men $11,000 in cash.

Yet soon after the men left the store, Myra’s mother looked again at the jewelry and said she didn’t recognize one of the small chains. She wondered if they had forgotten to test that piece.

In fact, they had tested all the gold with a solution and determined it was real.

They tested the jewelry again, and discovered that all the jewelry, though it was in the same bag and weighed the same and looked the same, was fake and worthless.

While the taller man had asked questions as a distraction, the shorter man
had switched the bag of real gold jewelry with an identical bag full of fake jewelry.

The men had likely scammed others, since the jewelry had been tested before. The men had an explanation for that as well, saying they had brought the gold to other stores and hadn’t gotten the right price.

How did they do it? Stills from the store’s surveillance video show the con men’s technique:

A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam
The reach

While his partner talks, the short man reaches for the bag of gold.

A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam
The pick up

He picks up the bag with his right hand.

A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam
The switch

As his partner occupies the woman behind the counter with a question, the short man does the switch.

When he picks up the bag, he’s moved back from his partner, but as he does the switch, he’ll move in closer to him to shield his actions – that’s so he can use his partner’s body to block the employee’s view of him. He also shifts his elbow along the counter to hide where the bag is supposed to be.

I thought he would have been smoother and quicker with his switch, but in the video, it looks like he’s fumbling a bit. It takes him about 11 seconds to switch one bag for the other. Still, it’s enough time.

A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam
The replace

Here he is positioned close to his partner at the end of his switch. It’s hard to see the bag (it’s under the "CH13" of the surveillance tape), but he’s replaced the real bag of gold with the fake bag, in the same position it was in before the switch.

The switch is complete.

What’s missing from these stills is probably what’s missing from the actual store surveillance tapes as well. It’s not just about a clever switch. I don’t think the sleight-of-hand itself is that convincing. But to make the con work, the men have to convince the employees to have confidence that their story is real.

Are these good con men? Since they committed their crime in full view of video cameras, and their faces have been plastered all over the TV news for the crime of grand theft, probably not.

Watch the complete news report at: Thieves Switch Real Gold For Fake – Store Loses $11,000 In Switcheroo, 7 News Denver>>

7 thoughts on “A sleight-of-hand jewelry scam”

  • Sandra Marasco says:

    I experienced this scam in my pawn shop, too. I learned the hard way that owners should train their employees to deal with situations like these.

  • Kyle Xanders says:

    Glad that the surveillance camera was able to capture it. Jewelry stores are really prone to scams, that’s why it is very important to at least have a camera inside the store, for your own safety.

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  • Anonymous says:

    I definitely agree, he does have very fast hands. I can’t believe that he got away with it.

  • Kyle Spamders says:

    Glad that the surveillance camera was able to capture it. Jewelry stores are really prone to scams, that’s why it is very important to at least have a camera inside the store, for your own safety.

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