(WTAJ) — Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are alerting all residents of what they called ‘quick moving’ scam artists that travel around city-to-city and state-to-state scamming ordinary folks.

Police are reporting an influx of scam reports involving the “Romanian transnational criminal organization: throughout the state.

These criminals are usually described as appearing Middle Eastern or Hispanic and may pose as stranded motorists in need of money and willing to part ways with gold jewelry that’s marked as “18k.” Police said the jewelry is later found to be counterfeit.

The scammers may approach people in parking lots and inside casinos. According to state police, they often try to get sympathy from their mark with stories of needing to get back home for a funeral, hungry children, and/or sick family members.

Police say they often travel with other family members in newer, high-end, or luxury vehicles with out-of-state plates.

Romanian transnational criminals reportedly commit a variety of crimes, including:

  • Counterfeit jewelry scams
  • Quick-change schemes at retail locations
  • Cell phone thefts
  • Gym locker thefts at fitness facilities
  • Jewelry store distraction thefts
  • Place skimming devices on ATMs and at self-check-out registers

PSP reminds people to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings and to consider the following recommendations:

  • Use caution if approached by an individual attempting to sell gold jewelry. While it may be stamped “18k,” it’s likely not real.
  • Do NOT feel pressured into buying jewelry, or any other items, even if they tell you a convincing story of being down on their luck and are desperate for money.
  • If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
  • Ask very specific questions about whatever they’re trying to sell/trade you about the item, origin, brand, and tell them you want any jewelry appraised.
  • NEVER leave with a stranger to go to an ATM to retrieve money to purchase jewelry or other items.
  • If you see individual(s) trying to flag down motorists on the side of the highway, contact law enforcement and do not approach them.
  • Be aware of the potential for ATM skimmers, especially at gas station pumps. Possible signs of tampering include buttons that stick or don’t work well, misaligned graphics, and components that look or feel different from the rest of the machine. Most skimmers will feel loose, like they may pop right off if you give them a good tug.
  • As always, continue to monitor your bank accounts for ANY suspicious transactions.

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Residents are urged to use the free “See something, send something” smartphone app to report any incidents and can even upload photos. You can also submit a tip via email to tips@pa.gov