WAYNE – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, State Office of Weights and Measures, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Wayne Police Department today announced 171 State civil complaints and 30 municipal code violations against 12 jewelers who allegedly violated the laws protecting cash-strapped consumers seeking to trade in their precious metals for money.
The complaints follow a joint undercover sting, appropriately dubbed “Operation Going for Gold.” Each State violation carries a maximum penalty of $500. The Wayne Township municipal code violations each carry a potential penalty of up to $2,000, as well as up to 90 days incarceration, or 90 days community service.
“When consumers choose to part with their jewelry in exchange for cash, it is often a difficult decision made during hard economic times,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “Our laws protect those consumers, by helping to ensure transparency by jewelers who price, weigh, and evaluate the precious metals brought in by individuals seeking to sell them. Jewelers who fail to comply with these laws will be held accountable.”
“Consumers deserve clear and accurate information when they shop around for the best value for their family’s jewelry. That’s why the Office of Weights and Measures certifies the scales, ensures jewelers test and weigh precious metals right in front of the consumer, and that they provide a detailed receipt about the items purchased,” Eric T. Kanefsky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “I commend the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Wayne Police Department for their proactive participation in this investigation.”
Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said, “In these difficult financial times, law enforcement must continue to work together to protect the rights of civilians from unscrupulous merchants.”
To help ensure consumers are not cheated when they sell precious metals, New Jersey law requires, among other things, that the buyer must weigh the precious metals, and test their fineness, within clear sight of the seller. The buyer must use a scale that has been certified by the Office of Weights and Measures. The buyer also must post a sign clearly showing the prices he or she offers, by weight and fineness, for various precious metals.
To help prevent the sale of stolen jewelry, and help return stolen jewelry to its rightful owner, State law requires that the seller must obtain proof of identification from the seller; and must create a serialized receipt that includes the date of the transaction; the name, address, and signature of the seller; the name and address of the buyer; and the types of precious metals purchased, their weight and fineness, and the prices paid. The buyer must give the seller a copy of the receipt, and must keep another copy for the buyer’s own records for at least one year. The buyer also must retain any precious metals in the form in which they were purchased, for no less than two business days.
The Division of Consumer Affairs provides important advice for those wishing to sell their precious metals or jewelry:
- Know with whom you are doing business. The buyer of precious metals and jewelry must include their name and address in all advertisements and at the point of purchase.
- Remember that any weighing and testing of your precious metals or jewelry must be done in plain view of you, the seller.
- Check the scale being used to weight your precious metals or jewelry. The scale must bear a blue New Jersey Office of Weights and Measures sticker, dated to show the scale has been tested by the State within the last 12 months. Make sure the scale bears a seal that is not broken; a broken seal indicates possible tampering.
- Prices must be prominently posted.
- Be sure to get a complete sales receipt. The receipt must include the buyer’s name and address; the date of the transaction; the names of the precious metals purchased; the fineness and weights of the precious metals purchased; the prices paid for the precious metals at the standard measures of weight; and the name, address, and signature of the seller.
- After the sale, the buyer is required to keep the item purchased for at least two business days; and to keep a serialized receipt of each transaction for at least one year.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 1-973-504-6200. Consumers can contact the State Office of Weights and Measures directly at 1-732-815-4840.
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