In its largest sweep yet, the New Jersey attorney general’s office cited 71 jewelers and other businesses with nearly 10,000 violations of the state’s gold-buying laws, its fourth such crackdown in the last three years.
The six-city October operation targeted urban jewelry stores, as well as pawnshops, bail bonds businesses, grocers, and even a sneaker store, with a combination of unannounced inspections and undercover gold buying.
Among the cited violations: failure to use a state-authorized scale, not posting metal prices, and not keeping proper receipts.
One Newark jeweler tallied 1,150 violations, and a Trenton check-casher was cited for 780. Each civil violation carries a penalty of $500–$1,000. Officers also confiscated 35 unauthorized scales.
In a statement, Division of Consumer Affairs acting director Steve Lee vowed future sweeps.
“My message to the stores would be to follow the law,” Lee said at a press conference, according to NJ.com. “[Cash-strapped consumers] deserve to get the best price possible for the jewelry that they’re looking to sell for cash.”
The state has done three similar operations, mostly targeting jewelers: the first, in August 2012, cited 12 stores; the second, in October 2013, found violations at six; and the third, in June 2014, resulted not only in civil charges for 21 jewelers, but criminal charges against two.
New Jersey state law requires that stores that buy gold from the public must use state-certified scales, post metal prices, weigh gold in view of sellers, obtain ID, keep detailed receipts for five years, and hold on to items for 10 days after giving the records to police.