WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- At least a dozen jewelers in New Jersey are accused of preying on cash-strapped customers looking to turn their gold into cash.
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The charges follow a sting, dubbed "Operation Going For Gold," in which undercover investigators in Passaic County posed as residents selling gold to Wayne Township jewelers.
Officials allege the jewelers violated the law by failing to test and weigh the precious metals in front of customers, post prices and provide required receipts.
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"When consumers choose to part with their jewelry in exchange for cash, it is often a difficult decision made during hard economic times," Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said.
The jewelers face 171 civil complaints and 30 municipal code violations.
Each state violation carries a fine of $500. The municipal code violations carry a penalty of up to $2,000, up to 90 days in jail or 90 days community service.
Six of the jewelers have booths at the Wayne Diamond and Jewelry Exchange and five are at Jewelry Exchange. Jewelry by Marcus on Route 46 faces 33 civil complaints.
The Division of Consumer Affairs offers several tips for those wishing to sell their precious metals and jewels:
- Know with whom you are doing business. The buyer of precious metals and jewelry must include their name and address in all advertisements and at the point of purchase.
- Remember that any weighing and testing of your precious metals or jewelry must be done in plain view of you, the seller.
- Check the scale being used to weight your precious metals or jewelry. The scale must bear a blue New Jersey Office of Weights and Measures sticker, dated to show the scale has been tested by the State within the last 12 months. Make sure the scale bears a seal that is not broken; a broken seal indicates possible tampering.
- Prices must be prominently posted.
- Be sure to get a complete sales receipt. The receipt must include the buyer's name and address; the date of the transaction; the names of the precious metals purchased; the fineness and weights of the precious metals purchased; the prices paid for the precious metals at the standard measures of weight; and the name, address, and signature of the seller.
- After the sale, the buyer is required to keep the item purchased for at least two business days; and to keep a serialized receipt of each transaction for at least one year.
For more information on how to protect yourself, check out these publications:
- Selling Your Precious Metals and Jewelry
- Consumer Brief: Precious Metals and Jewelry
- Precious Metals: A Guide for Law Enforcement
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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