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Man loses $1,000 after being scammed in a Middleton store parking lot

Updated: Sep. 12, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) - If a stranger approaches you in a parking lot asking for money, Wisconsin’s Better Business Bureau is warning caution.

The warning comes after the BBB received similar reports of a parking lot charity scam.

One of the latest victims is a Madison area man named Luis who says he was approached by a stranger in the parking lot of Costco in Middleton.

Luis says the stranger pulled up in a large white SUV and told him he was from Dubai and needed to get to the airport immediately. He said he needed $1,000 and insisted on exchanging jewelry for the cash.

Wanting to help the family, Luis offered to take them to an area store where the jewelry could be traded for cash. Luis says the man insisted that doing that went against his religious beliefs.

Finally, Luis went to a nearby ATM and withdrew cash for the man and took the jewelry he gave with the intention of trading it in for cash later.

The next day, Luis discovered the jewelry wasn’t real or worth anything. With no way to contact the stranger, Luis is now out of $1,000. He says he saw the red flags but in wanting to help, he was hopeful the man’s story was legitimate. Now he’s warning others not to fall for similar tricks.

Luis says he reported the incident to the Middleton Police Department and the Better Business Bureau. The BBB tracks scams across the country and recently received another report similar to what Luis says he experienced.

This time, a woman in Waukesha says a family approached her at a gas station asking for help. The woman withdrew cash and was given jewelry. The family promised to repay her when they returned overseas but the woman was unable to get her money back. She lost more than $700.

Now the BBB is warning people about what to do if a stranger approaches you in this way. Tiffany Schultz, BBB regional director says you should never give money to a person or organization before verifying they are legitimate. She says always try to redirect them to another resource or police if they ask for help or cash. If they refuse, that’s a red flag.

If you experience anything similar to Luis’s story, Schultz says you should always report it. Notify law enforcement, the BBB, and the nearby store so they can warn other customers.

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