Salem pawn shop worker catches scammer trying 'bait-and-switch' - KPTV - FOX 12

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Salem pawn shop worker catches scammer trying 'bait-and-switch'

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The surveillance video from Capital Pawn in Salem shows scam suspect Cruz Gonzalez in front of staffer Maria Lucero as she tried to get her co-worker's attention. (KPTV) The surveillance video from Capital Pawn in Salem shows scam suspect Cruz Gonzalez in front of staffer Maria Lucero as she tried to get her co-worker's attention. (KPTV)
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

Maria Lucero’s never faced a customer like the one she saw Wednesday.

She was working at Capital Pawn in Salem when a man came in and wanted to pawn a gold chain.

Surveillance video from the store shows the customer at the counter, and Lucero said he said he came to pawn a necklace.

But behind the counter was a flier from Medford police, warning pawn shops about the man, and Lucero said she recognized him right away.

“He threw his chain down on the counter and said he needed a loan,” she explained. “Automatically I recognized him from fliers and emails we received about this guy and what he's been doing. So it clicked with me.”

Those fliers and emails were from the National Pawnbrokers Association, the Oregon Pawnbrokers Association and even Medford police, warning workers about a scam and including pictures of the suspect and his car.

The Medford police notice stated a man named Cruz Gonzalez was pulling off a "bait-and-switch" scam by showing a real gold chain valued at several hundred dollars, then replacing it with a fake gold chain.

Police said Gonzalez had pulled the scheme in 21 states, until he tried to pull it with Lucero.

Beth Anundi, Capital Pawn's owner, sent her employees an email about the scammer just two hours before Gonzalez walked in to the store.

“He was in Medford, so I knew that the possibility he was coming up I-5 was great, so I just had sent it at least twice,” she said.

The surveillance video shows the with Gonzalez in front of her, Lucero stayed calm, but tried to get her co-worker's attention by kicking at him behind the counter.

She pointed at her computer screen, where she had pulled up an email about the scam, leading her co-worker to call 911. Salem Police showed up about 10 minutes later.

“I realized that he saw the police there, you never know what someone's going to do, especially when they know their time's up,” Lucero recalled. “He glanced around and realized they were out in the parking lot but he kept still focused, kind of looking over his shoulder.”

Gonzalez was arrested on a charge of theft, while the staff at Capital Pawn said "Thank Yous' have been coming in from pawn shops across the country.

Lucero said it was a big adrenaline rush, and was glad she could help.

“I been doing this a long time. You can't get a veteran.”

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