On Aug. 30, a man charged with selling more than $500,000 in fake gold jewelry to buyers of scrap metal was sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to 15 counts of fraud.
According to the police department of Chandler, Ariz., Edward Brueggemeyer and seven other suspects purchased large quantities of stainless steel bracelets and necklaces, and stamped the jewelry with 14k, 18k, and .750 identifiers. They then either pawned the items or sold them as scrap gold.
Investigators estimate the scheme yielded the suspects $150,000 in Arizona alone, plus $500,000 across Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and the southwestern United States. Detectives estimate more than 140 transactions by the group occurred in Arizona.
On Aug. 23, Brueggemeyer pled guilty to 15 counts of fraudulent schemes, and was later sentenced to six years in prison.
“This is a continuing issue,” says John Kennedy of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. “With the price of gold the way it is, we have seen a big upsurge in this type of crime.”
A JSA alert warns jewelers to be “on high alert” when buying gold, and submit every product to rigorous testing, including cutting the piece below the surface. Jewelers also have to beware of sellers that switch the pieces.
“Once you buy it, don’t let it out of your hands,” Kennedy advises.