FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Robert Ruiz was at the gas station, just before his son's baseball practice, when he became the target of the latest scam to hit the Central Valley.
Like dozens of Valley motorists who have been approached by these con-artists, a man in nice clothing offered to sell the jewelry off his hands if he could just get a little help.
After Ruiz said no, the encounter became more aggressive.
"One time I had a necklace, a watch, a bracelet and ring all in my hand and he grabbed my hand and was trying to give me that," he said. "I looked in the car and his wife was in the car shes like please help me and I saw two little girls so I felt really bad."
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Between the pull at his hands and heart strings, Ruiz reached for the $100 cash he had for his son's new baseball uniform.
"He cupped my hand, kissed it and looked up thank you Allah," he said.
Ruiz even offered to take the family to a nearby restaurant, but they declined saying they were in a rush. Once he filled up their tank they took off.
But it was only after Action News aired the story on this scam that he realized he fell victim as well.
"They'll be parked, see a car coming, flag the car down, getting in the lanes forcing cars to pull over," said CHP investigator Jarrod Banta.
Banta says within the last few weeks authorities have caught up with who they're saying are only a few of a much larger network.
This time the car was on the side of the road at Jensen and 41.
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"They had rings in their possession necklaces even jewelry polishing compound to make it look pretty," Banta said.
CHP say there's a growing list of victims, but there are as many as 70 who have come forward statewide.
They say the suspects have been reported to work as a family and typically have young children with them.
Investigators say they dress professionally, speak with a thick accent, and are believed to be from Romania.
"We don't want anyone to get injured on the freeway, the gas station or when they get approached," Banta said.
Authorities are saying whether it seems suspicious or if you're just not sure to call 9-1-1.
If they're stranded they shouldn't mind if you try to ask law enforcement to help.
if you think you've been a victim it is important you contact CHP immediately.
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