Investigators sent out a public warning to a community in California after a man in Redlands paid thousands in cash for what he thought were real gold bars.

Officials got their warning put out to the public after a man reportedly has lost over $20,000 in the scam that took place in the Inland Empire.

Redlands city public information officer Carl Baker said the man who was scammed had been communicating with the "seller" on Craigslist. He met the seller in a black alley on two occasions to purchase gold bars for a total of $21,000. Later, the man found out that the bars he purchased were fake.

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"We believe there may be other victims out there and that's part of the reason why we are reaching out," said Baker "We would recommend if you are going to do something like this, that you would meet at a reputable dealer where you could have the product tested right then and there."

He went on.

"If a deal is too good to be true it usually is,” said Cesar Meyer, the owner of Crown Gold Exchange in Redlands.

Meyer said buyers can test the gold simply by using a magnet.

"If you just take a magnet and put it up to a piece of gold, if it somehow sticks for one reason or another then you know instantly it's not real," he said.

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Meyer also said gold bars will have their weight printed on them that will match up when placed on a scale. If the weight doesn't match, then they're likely fake.

"If you are being offered this under the price of gold that right there is a huge red flag," said Meyer.

Obviously, the biggest red flag here is you're buying gold bars cash-only from a guy named "Randy" in an alley out of the trunk of a green Honda Accord.

Read more at NBC Los Angeles

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