Video shows roadside jewelry scam attempt in Oakland hills

Surveillance video from a Tesla shows a man standing next to his car, parked on the side of the road in the Oakland hills. 

"I saw a guy with his blinkers on, another car just left," says the Tesla owner, Artem Russakovskii.

"He flagged me down, and I don't know why, but I just pulled over, thinking he needs help, maybe he needs a jump or he needs to use a cell phone to call 911," Russakovskii said.

It happened on busy Moraga Avenue near Highway 13

"He said he was Saudi, his family was in the car, and he needed help, something about his car," Russakovskii said.

Then the conversation abruptly shifted.

"He whips out a gold ring, probably very much fake and tries to say something like 'Here's a ring,' you know probably tries to exchange it for some cash," he said.

That's when Russakovskii says he realized he was being scammed.

"At that point, I said, ‘Nope’ and drove off," he said.

Russakovskii says he believes that man chose that spot precisely because it's a busy street near the highway between the Montclair District in the Oakland hills and Piedmont.

After he posted his videos on Nextdoor, several people said they saw the same man at other locations, including the next exit on Highway 13 at Broadway Terrace and in Lafayette and Orinda. 

Kellie Verke said she gave the same man $20 for a gold chain labeled "18K" in Lafayette near Highway 24 after he asked for help getting back to Las Vegas.

"Yep, from Saudi Arabia, that he had no money," Verke said. "It's shameful. The most disappointing thing about it is that everyone is starting to trust everyone again after the entire pandemic." 

For years, law enforcement have been warning people about this roadside scam involving fake jewelry.

Russakovskii say's he frustrated that apparent con artists  would take advantage of people's natural inclination to help. 

"I would say angry. I don't like scammers," he said. "It's not as bad as robbing you, but it's essentially robbing without maybe violence."