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Emerson business busted in NJ ‘cash-for-gold’ crackdown

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An Emerson “cash for gold” faces up to $123,000 in civil penalties after becoming one of 21  shops cited by state authorities for violating New Jersey consumer protection laws.

Reliance Gold Buyers was charged with 123 civil violations because it “failed to post the prices offered for precious metals” or “maintain receipts with required information such as the weights, fineness, and prices paid per unit of weight for purchased jewelry,” the state Division of Consumer Affairs said today.

Each single civil violation carries a penalty of $500 to $1,000.

State authorities this morning announced the crackdown, which they said led to 936 civil citations at stores across North and Central Jersey.

“New Jersey’s cash-for-gold laws serve two important functions: On one hand they require jewelers to be transparent about their pricing and the evaluation of precious metals when buying from consumers,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “On the other hand, they help fight the sale of stolen jewelry by requiring the buyers to maintain a fully detailed record that can be provided to police.”

The investigation is only just beginning, authorities said during a news conference in Avenel: Led by the DCA and Office of Weights and Measures, more undercover operations and unannounced inspections will occr at jewelry shops that offer to buy precious metals from consumers.

“Especially now that the price of gold appears to be rising, we are focusing on the integrity of those businesses that attract consumers who may face financial hardships with the promise of cash for gold, silver, and precious jewelry,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve C. Lee said. “This enforcement action is just the beginning of a year-long focus to ensure jewelry stores comply with our cash-for-gold laws.”

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 also requires that the buyer must obtain proof of identification from the seller.

The buyer also 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. He or she also must keep another copy of the receipt for the buyer’s own records for at least one year under New Jersey’s Weights and Measures statute, and for at least five years under the state’s criminal statutes.

In addition, the buyer must retain any precious metals in the form in which they were purchased for no less than two business days under New Jersey’s Weights and Measures statute and, under criminal statutes, for no less than 10 business days following delivery of the sales record to local police.

State Office of Weights and Measures Acting Superintendent Howard Pine and John T. McGuire, the state supervisor of enforcement for the Office of Weights and Measures, led the investigation. State Weights and Measures Officers Kathy Belknap, James Logothetis, Veatrece Newton, Richard Pluymers, Robert Spiegel, and Yocelin Tejada participated.

Deputy Attorney General Neil Magnus is representing the state.

Hoffman said the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Edison Police Department and Fairfield Police Department “played important roles in the investigation, which included undercover visits to jewelry stores by officers who posed as consumers seeking to sell their jewelry.”

THE BREAKDOWN:

Edison:

On May 7, 2014 and May 9, 2014, State Office of Weights and Measures officers joined with Edison Police Department detectives for an undercover operation at International Gold Buyers, a jewelry store in Edison. On each day, an undercover officer entered the store while posing as a consumer seeking to sell jewelry. On May 9, after the undercover sales were concluded, Office of Weights and Measures officers entered the jewelry store and announced they were performing an inspection pursuant to New Jersey’s Weights and Measures Act and New Jersey criminal statutes. The officers and detectives observed the jewelry store’s scales and signage, and obtained all receipts the store maintained on the premises.

As a result of this investigation, the State Office of Weights and Measures filed summonses in municipal court detailing 209 violations of New Jersey’s cash-for-gold laws at International Gold Buyers. The store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also allegedly failed to maintain receipts with required information such as the weights, fineness, and/or types of precious metals purchased; and, on at least two occasions, the seller’s name, address, and/or signature; the buyer’s name and/or address; and/or the date of the transaction – all of which are required to aid in the investigation of items that may turn out to have been stolen.

Fairfield:

On May 16, 2014 State Office of Weights and Measures officers joined with Essex County Prosecutor’s Office investigators and Fairfield Police Department detectives for an undercover operation at six jewelry stores, all located at the Route 46 Diamond Exchange. A team of undercover officers and detectives visited each store while posing as consumers seeking to sell jewelry. Later that day, the officers and Fairfield Police detectives entered each store and announced they were performing an inspection pursuant to New Jersey’s Weights and Measures Act and New Jersey criminal statutes. The officers and detectives observed the jewelry store’s scales and signage, and obtained all receipts the store maintained on the premises.

As a result of this investigation, the State Office of Weights and Measures filed summonses in municipal court detailing a total of 241 violations at the six stores, specifically:

Six Star Jewelry: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also on one occasion allegedly failed to maintain a serialized receipt with required information such as the weights, fineness, and/or types of precious metals purchased; and/or the seller’s name, address, signature, and/or proof of identification; and/or the buyer’s name and address; and/or the date of the transaction. This store is charged with 13 civil violations.

Haniken Jewelers: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device; and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also on at least one occasion allegedly failed to maintain a serialized receipt with required information such as the weights, fineness, and/or types of precious metals purchased; and/or the seller’s name, address, signature, and/or proof of identification; and/or the buyer’s name and address; and/or the date of the transaction. Weights and Measures officers also confiscated this store’s scale because it was of a type not approved for the purchasing of jewelry. This store is charged with 15 civil violations.

Elizabeth Jewelry: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device; and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also on at least one occasion allegedly failed to maintain a serialized receipt with required information such as the weights, fineness, and/or types of precious metals purchased; the seller’s name, address, signature, and/or proof of identification; the buyer’s name and/or address; and/or the date of the transaction. The store also allegedly failed to retain jewelry in its original form for two full business days. Weights and Measures officers confiscated this store’s scale because it was of a type not approved for the purchasing of jewelry. This store is charged with 16 civil violations.

Jewelry by Marcus: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device; and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also allegedly failed to maintain serialized receipts with required information such as the weights, fineness and/or prices paid per unit of weight of precious metals purchased; and/or the seller’s signature and/or proof of identification; and/or the date of the transaction. This store is charged with 96 civil violations.

David’s Sons Jewelry: This store allegedly failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device; and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also on at least two occasions allegedly failed to maintain serialized receipts with required information such as the weights, fineness, and/or types of precious metals purchased; and/or the seller’s name, address, and/or signature; and/or the buyer’s name and address; and/or the date of the transaction. The store also allegedly failed to retain jewelry in its original form for two full business days. This store is charged with 19 civil violations.

John Anthony Jewelers: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also allegedly failed to maintain serialized receipts with required information such as the weights, fineness, and/or types of precious metals purchased; and/or the seller’s name, address, signature, and/or proof of identification; and/or the buyer’s name and address; and the date of the transaction. Weights and Measures officers confiscated this store’s scale because it was of a type not approved for the purchasing of jewelry. This store is charged with 82 civil violations.

Emerson, Jersey City, North Bergen, Plainfield, Union, Vauxhall:

In early and mid-May 2014, State Office of Weights and Measures officers visited a total of 36 jewelry stores that offer “cash for gold” in Bergen, Hudson, and Union counties. At each store the inspectors announced they were performing an inspection pursuant to New Jersey’s Weights and Measures Act. They found a total of 486 alleged violations at 14 of the stores, specifically:

Reliance Gold Buyers, in the Borough of Emerson: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also allegedly failed to maintain receipts with required information such as the weights, fineness, and prices paid per unit of weight for purchased jewelry. This store is charged with 123 civil violations.

Village Jewelry, in Jersey City: This store allegedly failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device; and failed to use a scale with a Weights and Measures certificate clearly and prominently displayed. This store is charged with two civil violations.

Christina Jewelry, in Jersey City: This store allegedly failed to maintain receipts with required information such as the weight, fineness, type, and/or prices paid per unit of weight of precious metals purchased, and/or the seller’s signature. This store is charged with 42 civil violations.

Taj Diamond Inc., in Jersey City: This store allegedly failed to maintain receipts with the weights and types of precious metals purchased; and/or the seller’s signature and/or proof of identification. This store is charged with 34 civil violations.

M & J Jewelers, in North Bergen: This store allegedly failed to use a scale that had been secured with a lead and wire seal to prevent tampering with the scale device; failed to use a scale registered with the Office of Weights and Measures; and failed to prominently display a Weights and Measures inspection certificate on the scale. The store also allegedly failed to maintain receipts with required information such as the fineness of purchased precious metals and/or the price paid per unit of weight for purchased precious metals; and/or the seller’s signature and/or proof of identification; and/or the date of the transaction. This store is charged with 38 civil violations.

Gold Star Jewelers, in Union: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. This store is charged with one civil violation.

City Line Exchange, in Union: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals, and failed to include serial numbers on receipts. This store is charged with eight civil violations.

Capital Diamond, in Union: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals, and failed to prominently display a Weights and Measures inspection certificate on its scale. The store also allegedly failed to maintain receipts with serial numbers and/or the weights, types, and/or prices paid per unit of weight of precious metals purchased. This store is charged with 19 civil violations.

D & M Jewelry, in Vauxhall: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, and failed to test the fineness of precious metals in plain view of the seller, and failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also allegedly failed to record the types of precious metals purchased, and/or the sellers’ signature and/or proof of identification, on receipts. This store is charged with 25 civil violations.

Electronic & Jewelry Spot, in Plainfield: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals, and failed to prominently display a Weights and Measures inspection certificate on its scale. This store is charged with two civil violations.

Gold Breeze Jewelry, in Plainfield: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also on at least one occasion allegedly failed to maintain a serialized receipt with the weights and prices paid per unit of weight, of purchased precious metals. This store is charged with four civil violations.

Gold Star Jewelry, in Plainfield: This store allegedly failed to post the prices offered for precious metals. The store also allegedly failed to maintain receipts with the type, weights, fineness, and or prices paid per unit of weight of purchased precious metals. This store is charged with 97 civil violations.

Dia Jewelers, in Plainfield: This store allegedly failed to keep its scale in plain view of the seller, and failed to test the fineness of precious metals in plain view of the seller. The store also allegedly failed to prominently display a Weights and Measures inspection certificate on its scale. The store also allegedly failed to maintain serialized receipts with information including the type, weight, and/or fineness of purchased precious metals; and/or the seller’s signature; and/or the buyer’s name and address. This store is charged with 26 civil violations.

Bong Jewelers, in Plainfield: This store allegedly failed to maintain serialized receipts with the prices paid per unit of weight of purchased items, and/or the seller’s signature. This store is charged with 65 civil violations.

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