NEWARK – State Office of Weights and Measures officers have cited 49 gold and jewelry buying businesses with more than 1,600 summonses for alleged violations of state statutes, during a just-concluded statewide inspection sweep that found inaccurate scales that misweighed items and resulted in consumers receiving less money.
The Precious Metals Task Force commenced its inspections in June following receipt of a consumer complaint. The task force conducted unannounced inspections of jewelry stores and also transient buyers of gold and jewelry who typically operate within hotels and frequently move.
“Some of the buyers defrauded consumers, short-weighing their items and likely paying them less than the true value of the items,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. “We found violations statewide and we’re putting the industry on notice that we won’t tolerate the cheating of consumers.”
A scale that had a spring mounted under the weighing platform was among the confiscated scales displayed at a press conference today at the state Office of Weights and Measures in Avenel. The spring pushed back as an item was weighed, producing an inaccurate reading.
“Consumers who need to sell their heirlooms and keepsakes to raise cash deserve to get every dollar that their gold, jewelry and precious metals are worth. But buyers who use unapproved, uninspected or purposely tampered with scales are cheating consumers out of money,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs.
The businesses were cited for violations of laws that require detailed receipts to be provided to sellers, as well as for the use of scales that were found to be unregistered, not inspected, not approved for use in New Jersey, and that had been unsealed and tampered with.
Complete receipts given to consumers selling their items must include information about the type of precious metal or item purchased, the fineness (quality) of the metal, the weights of the items purchased, the prices paid, and the name and address of the buyer. That information is important to the consumer who may later wish to dispute the transaction or attempt to reclaim their jewelry during the 48 hours when the buyer is required to keep the purchased item.
Transient gold and jewelry buying businesses are required to post a $5,000 bond with the state in order to conduct business.
Calcagni noted that consumers can contact the State Office of Weights and Measures directly at 732-815-4840. Complaints also can be filed online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov .
Deputy Attorney General Neil Magnus is representing the state in this matter. The civil penalty for each violation conviction ranges from $100 to $500, with the court setting the exact penalty.
The violations chart and key to the violation codes are attached.
Calcagni thanked the following local Weights and Measures offices for their participation in the task force inspections: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties and the cities of East Orange and Trenton.
Key to Attached Violations Chart:
N.J.S.A. 51:6A-1. Buyer on basis of bulk value; duties; serialized receipts; bond
Any person in the business of buying precious metals who buys, attempts to buy or offers to buy precious metals on the basis of bulk value from any person who is not in the business of selling precious metals shall:
- Clearly and prominently display at the point of purchase:
- His name and address;
- The price being offered or paid by the buyer for precious metals expressed as price per standard measure of weight and fineness as prescribed by the Superintendent of Weights and Measures.
- Include his name and address in all advertisements concerning such precious metals.
- Weigh the precious metals in plain view of the seller on State certified scales with the certificate of inspection clearly and prominently displayed.
- Test the fineness of precious metals, if any test is so performed, in plain view of the seller.
- Issue to the seller and keep for his own records, for not less than 1 year, a serialized receipt for each purchase of precious metals containing the following:
- The name and address of the buyer;
- Date of the transaction;
- The names of the precious metals purchased;
- The finenesses of the precious metals purchased;
- The weights of the precious metals purchased;
- The prices paid for the precious metals at the standard measures of weight and fineness prescribed by the superintendent;
- The name, address and signature of the seller of the precious metals.
- Obtain proof of identity from each person who sells precious metals to him.
- Retain any precious metals in the form in which they were purchased for a period of not less than 2 business days, minimum 48 hours.
- Upon reasonable request, allow the inspection of the serialized receipts or precious metals provided for in subsections e. and g. respectively of this section by any law enforcement officer or weights and measures official.
- Obtain a bond in an amount and form prescribed by regulations of the Office of Weights and Measures. The bond shall be obtained from a surety company authorized by law to do business in this State. The bond shall run to the State for the benefit of any person injured by the wrongful act, default, fraud or misrepresentation of the buyer of precious metals. No bond shall comply with the requirements of this subsection unless the bond contains a provision that it shall not be cancelled for any cause unless notice of intention to cancel is filed in the Office of Weights and Measures at least 30 days before the day upon which cancellation shall take effect. This subsection shall only apply to transient buyers.
Businesses with Inaccurate Scales