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‘Cash for Gold’ Sting Results in Civil, Criminal Charges

Charges brought against five Somerset County stores

A Somerset jewelry store faces more than $219,000 in civil fines and another township store owner faces criminal charges following a joint law enforcement sting operation on Somerset County jewelry stores.

Venus Jewelers, Rutgers Plaza, was hit with 439 municipal court violations for allegedly failing to abide by the state’s cash-for-gold consumer protection laws, according to a release on the charges by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Each civil violation carries a maximum fine of $500.

Highland Park resident David Rubin, the owner of Cash4Gold/Wireless Source in the township, was charged with third-degree receiving stolen property and with third- and fourth-degree attempted receipt of stolen property. The store was also charged with 30 municipal court violations of the state cash-for-gold consumer protection law, according to the release.

The stores were two of five in the county against which civil and criminal charges were announced Oct. 2 by acting Attorney General John Hoffman, Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano and state Division of Consumer Affairs Director Eric Kanefsky.

During the sting, known as “Operation Somer Gold,” undercover investigators from the county prosecutor’s office and the state and county offices of weights and measures targeted eight Somerset County jewelry stores and posed as customers wanting to sell gold, the release said. The shops were located in Bound Brook, Franklin and Green Brook.

The investigators watched for whether the jewelry store employees followed state consumer protection laws and laws intended to protect against the sale of stolen goods, the release said.

Michael Khalaf, 51, of South Plainfield, the owner of Khalaf Jewelry in Bound Brook, was also charged with second-degree conducting unlawful credit practice, according to the release. Officials said Khalaf attempted to operate as a pawn shop when he was not licensed by the state to do so.

Other county jewelry stores cited for violations of state consumer laws in their respective municipal courts were Las Americas of Bound Brook, which was charged with 87 violations, and Hillsborough Rare Coins of Green Brook, which was charged with 27 violations.

“New Jersey’s cash-for-gold laws remove an avenue for burglars who profit by stealing precious items from law-abiding citizens,” Hoffman said in the release. “They also protect consumers who make the difficult decision, often during hard economic times, to part with their jewelry in exchange for cash.”

“Joint operations such as this bring together the State and County Offices of Weights and Measures, which focus on protecting consumers who sell their jewelry, with criminal law enforcement, enabling us to identify and stop businesses that knowingly buy stolen property – especially items that are stolen during residential burglaries,” Soriano said in the release.

According to state law, a jeweler must weigh and test any proffered jewelry in front of the seller, the release said. The jeweler must also use scales certified by Weights and Measures, and post signs stating what the store will pay for various precious metals.

State law intended to protect against the sale of stolen jewelry requires a buyer to obtain proof of the seller’s identity and create a receipt that includes the transaction’s date;  the seller’s name, address and signature; the buyer’s name and address; the type of precious metal bought and it’s weight, fineness and price paid, according to the release.

Other tips for consumers selling their precious metals:

  • 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 weigh 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.

 

 

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