What's the Buddha gold scam that is hitting the Houston area?

HOUSTONShort answer: a trick to get you to buy fake gold.

Long answer: An elaborate con, typically targeting the Chinese-American community. Unsuspecting targets are convinced they are helping Chinese immigrants by purchasing gold.

The con men give the target a test piece, which is gold, enticing them to purchase the entire lot. In the last two years, the scam has been on the rise. The San Francisco DA issued a warning last year.

Three men in Denver were arrested last year. A woman who was victimized in Tampa lost $20,000.

Did it happen here, too?

It sure did. A Katy woman was duped in late June after two men strolled into her dessert shop. They spun a complicated story about how they found a treasure buried during World War II.

To sell the scam, they produced a weathered note and era-correct Chinese money. The victim was motivated to help because the men said they had recently arrived in the country, and needed cash to send home to ailing family members in China. The victim said that she was also motivated by the opportunity to make money while also helping someone. She lost $8,000 in cash to the men. The "solid gold" Buddha she purchased from the duo may be painted lead.

Did the crooks get away with it?

In this case, they have so far. However, there is a video of the men speaking with the victim inside her Katy dessert shop. She is working with Harris County Pct. 5 Constable's Office.

They have assigned both an investigator and an interpreter to the case.