Fraudsters who fled Stoke pawn shop in fake gold con caught on CCTV


This was the moment CCTV cameras captured a pair of smartly-dressed fraudsters escaping with cash after conning a pawnbroker with an audacious fake gold swap.

Paul Wood, who runs Church Street Gold Pottery and Furniture, in Stoke, was left devastated after being tricked into buying fake bullion bars by a man and a woman who came into his shop last Thursday, June 20.

The pair, believed to be Eastern European, said they wanted to sell some 9-carat gold, which Paul handled and weighed before agreeing to pay them £1,765.

Security footage shows how the man used sleight of hand and managed to switch the bag of real gold for fake gold right under the nose of unsuspecting Paul. The couple then fled the scene with the money.

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Paul said he dialled 999 and reported the matter to police but was left stunned to be told it would be six weeks before an officer could attend. He has now slammed Staffordshire Police's response and believes the daring crooks could strike again elsewhere due to their lack of action.

The force has confirmed they are now hunting the pair and urged any witnesses to get in touch. It is the eighth time the shop has been targeted by thieves and burglars.

Paul Wood, who owns Church Street Gold Pottery and Furniture -Credit:SWNS
Paul Wood, who owns Church Street Gold Pottery and Furniture -Credit:SWNS

Paul, 58, from Stoke-on-Trent, said: "It was last Thursday and this man and woman came in to say they wanted to sell some gold. They were Eastern European I think and well presented and smartly dressed and they seemed genuine enough.

"They handed over this gold which I weighed and checked as I normally would and we agreed on a price of £1,765 after confirming it was 9-carat gold.

"He had the gold in this blue velvet bag and he kept on trying to put it back in there while I was trying to weigh it and I had to keep telling him 'I don't want your bag'. And this back and forth kept on as he kept on putting the gold back in the bag and he was just trying to bamboozle me.

"They then said they had some more gold, but I looked at that too and thought it didn't look right, so I said I wouldn't be buying it. Then they’ve somehow swapped the bag of real gold for the bag of the tat, which he had tied up really tightly.

Paul Wood -Credit:SWNS
Paul Wood -Credit:SWNS

"I knew something was strange when he threw the bag behind the counter but when he made his way to the front door, they wanted to look at something else in the window. They were engaging in conversation and just kept me talking.

"In the back of mind I'm thinking they would have done a runner by now if they weren't genuine but I still need to go back and double check that bag.

"But then they did bolt off quite suddenly. I ran straight back to the bag and had to cut it open with a knife because he had tied it so tightly. All this fake gold came pouring out of the bag so I legged it out of the shop and down the street - but they were long gone. A car must have been waiting.

"Looking back I felt quite silly as I'm usually so careful. But they were in the shop for about 20 minutes and I never took my eyes off him.

"I watched him and somehow he managed to pull the wool over my eyes, I don’t know how he has done it. It was quite a professional job."

CCTV at Church Street Gold Pottery and Furniture -Credit:SWNS
CCTV at Church Street Gold Pottery and Furniture -Credit:SWNS

Paul, who has owned the shop for 18 years, was then told by police it would be six weeks before an officer could come out or he could attend a station in person.

He added: "I dialled 999 straight away but they told me to call 101 which took an hour to get through to. I was then told I would have to wait six weeks for an officer to visit or I could book an appointment to come to a police station.

"I thought time would be of the essence in terms of catching them so I was quite surprised by their response.

"I told police I've got them on all angles on crystal-clear CCTV and they just told me to bring it to a police station and they'd take a statement.

"I think the police have given up, there's not enough police and I do feel sorry for them because they're not getting help. But criminals are getting away with things because the police are too busy and something needs to be done."

A Staffordshire Police spokesperson said: "We are investigating following reports of fake gold being used in exchange for cash.

"A man and a woman came into Church Street Gold to exchange gold for cash. In-between the transaction, the suspects swapped the gold for fakes and left the store.

“The man is described as being of a large build with black hair shaved at the side, a black goatee beard, and was wearing a suit.

"The woman is also of a large build, was wearing a matching suit, had long straight dark hair that was tied back, and white trainers that had a red heel."

Any witnesses are asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number 396 of June 20, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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