Should Internet Gold Buyers Follow the Same Rules as Jewelers?


On the grounds of simple fairness, one has to be in favor of the proposed Florida legislation that would make mail-in gold buyers face many of the same rules that pawn shops and jewelers do.


Cash4Gold, which is based in Florida, does some 800,000 transactions a year. With such a huge volume, it’s not unrealistic to assume that there are one or two thieves in there. And to be fair, the company says it has a way to flag possibly stolen pieces, and according to this report, Cash4Gold supports the new law.  Good for them.


(By the way, it does seem that most of these Internet mail-in services seem based in Florida – perhaps because that’s the estate jewelry mecca.)


However, I just spoke to Cecilia Gardner, of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, who notes reasons why it seems to be the industry, rather than law enforcement, pushing for these kinds of bills:


-         Although the mail-in places don’t require the same information that jewelers have to provide in Florida (including a drivers license and thumbprint), they do require customers to give their name, phone number, and address. Not information most thieves would want to give out.


-         Secondly, most thieves already have established places to trade in their gold. “A lot of thieves know about the anti-fencing laws,” she says. “They don’t just walk into a jeweler off the street. They have places where they can get it melted illegally.”


-         And finally, as we’ve noted before, the Internet mail-in places offer substantially less for gold than most jewelers and pawnshops. “I’m not sure that anyone seeking a return for their stolen property would want to go to them,” she says.


“I think that the Internet companies should be at some level regulated,” she says. “But I don’t see it as a major issue because I don’t see this as a way that the bad guys are going to fence their goods.”


She says that perhaps more worthy of law enforcement attention are the so-called “gold parties,” which don’t generally require names and addresses. (Although these, too, tend to pay less than most jewelers.)


JCK News Director