Nearly 10,000 'cash-for-gold' violations found in six cities across N.J., officials say

By Bill Wichert | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 18, 2014

Thirty-five scales were confiscated as part of a statewide investigation into violations

 

NEWARK — About 70 “cash-for-gold” businesses in six cities across New Jersey have received a combined total of nearly 10,000 civil citations for allegedly violating consumer protection laws, officials announced today.

After undercover operations and unannounced inspections, authorities have cited 71 jewelry stores, pawn shops and other businesses in Newark, Paterson, Camden, Irvington, Trenton and Teaneck for various violations.

Each violation carries a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.

“My message to the stores would be to follow the law,” said Steve Lee, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said today during a press conference in Newark.

Lee noted the impact on cash-strapped consumers at such businesses who are looking to sell heirlooms and jewelry to pay their expenses or buy Christmas presents for their children.

Those consumers “deserve to get the best price possible for the jewelry that they’re looking to sell for cash,” Lee said.

Today’s announcement follows the nearly 1,000 citations announced in June for alleged violations at 21 jewelry stores across Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Bergen and Union counties.

But Lee said the latest investigation marks the first enforcement actions in the urban centers targeted in the probe.

“We have not gone into some of these urban centers with a ‘cash-for-gold’ operation like this ever,” Lee said.

Of the six cities, the most citations were issued in Newark, where authorities found 5,436 alleged violations at 29 stores.

The next highest-number of citations were handed out in Paterson with 2,459 alleged violations at 21 stores; Camden with 711 alleged violations at eight stores; and Irvington with 223 alleged violations at five stores.

Five businesses in Trenton were cited for 966 alleged violations, and three Teaneck shops were cited for 172 alleged violations.

While several individual businesses were cited for hundreds of alleged violations, the worst alleged offender was New City Gold & Diamonds, located at 178 Bloomfield Avenue in Newark, where authorities found a total of 1,150 alleged violations.

Among the various violations, businesses failed to use a scale that has been state-certified and/or properly sealed to prevent tampering, authorities said. Some stores failed to weigh the metals in plain view of the sellers, Lee said.

Businesses also failed to prominently post the prices offered for certain precious metals, and they failed to maintain receipts with information about the buyer, seller, and/or precious metals purchased, authorities said.

During the investigation, officers confiscated 35 scales that were not approved for “cash-for-gold” sales, or were not registered with the New Jersey State Office of Weights and Measures.

The violations were found in part when undercover officers with Weights and Measures, and county or municipal police, visited businesses and pretended to be consumers looking to sell their precious metals.

Authorities also conducted unannounced inspections at the majority of stores.

“Our intent is not to drive these companies out of business, but it’s to bring them into full compliance with the law,” Lee said.

One “surprising result” of the investigation was that in addition to jewelry stores and pawn shops, alleged violations were found at “some unexpected places,” including a sneaker store in Paterson, according to Lee.

Those other businesses are not prohibited from engaging in “cash-for-gold” sales, but they must comply with state regulations, Lee said. But Lee also cautioned that consumers should question whether such businesses can offer the best possible deal.

Law enforcement officials today stressed the need for consumers to be aware of their rights and the law governing “cash-for-gold” transactions.

Teaneck Police Chief Robert Carney added during today’s event that an “educated consumer is the best precaution.”

The businesses issued citations for “cash-for-gold” violations are as follows:

Newark (29 stores with a total of 5,436 alleged violations):

- New City Gold & Diamonds, 178 Bloomfield Avenue (1,150 alleged violations)
- K&J Jewelers LLC, 86 Ferry Street (861 alleged violations)
- Bloomfield Gold & Silver, 312 Bloomfield Avenue (772 alleged violations)
- Gateway Cosmetics, Inc., 1 Gateway Center (476 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- K&J Jewelers, 141 Bloomfield Avenue (358 alleged violations)
- Fast Cash Jewelers, 518 Springfield Avenue (347 alleged violations)
- Brick City Gold, 104 Market Street (255 alleged violations)
- Rich & Sons / New Loan Co., 857 Broad Street (199 alleged violations/ three scales seized)
- Ironbound Pawn Shop, 188 Ferry Street (151 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Mr. Gold Inc., 831 Broad Street (109 alleged violations)
- Cosmetic House, 166 Market Street (89 alleged violations)
- New City Gold & Diamonds, 526 Central Avenue (87 alleged violations)
- Vinhas Jewelers, 197 Ferry Street (82 alleged violations)
- Halsey Street Jewelry, 199 Halsey Street (83 alleged violations)
- Quick Cash Jewelers, 712 Broadway (78 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- State Jewelers, 786 Broad Street (76 alleged violations)
- Dr. Kim Jewelry, 797 Broad Street (70 alleged violations)
- Delson Jewelry, 202 Ferry Street (61 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Golden City, 827 Broad Street (42 alleged violations)
- Raymond Jewelers, 1186 Raymond Boulevard (33 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- State Gold Buyers & Loan Co., 75 First Street (26 alleged violations)
- Mega Jewelry, 154 Market Street (11 alleged violations)
- Simon Jewelers, 91 Wilson Avenue (5 alleged violations/two scales seized)
- Vinhas Jewelers, 87 Ferry Street (5 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Micro City, 146A Ferry Street (3 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Branford Art & Gold Plus, 60 Branford Place (2 alleged violations/two scales seized)
- Carbo International Jewelers, 134 Ferry Street (2 alleged violations/two scales seized)
- Fast Cash Jewelers, 1087 Broad Street (2 alleged violations)
- Branco’s Jewelers, 144 Ferry Street (1 alleged violation/one scale seized)

Paterson (21 stores with a total of 2,459 alleged violations):

- Broadway Jewelry, 72 Broadway (545 alleged violations)
- Khal’s Jewelry, 122 Market Street (398 alleged violations)
- Holy Land Gifts & Fine Jewelry, 1143 Main Street (346 alleged violations)
- Sneaker Stadium, 741 Market Street (261 alleged violations)
- Itani Jewelers, 249-A Main Street (198 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Rossy Elsie, 368 21st Avenue (159 alleged violations)
- E & D Cashing, 213 Market Street (147 alleged violations)
- La Casa Bonita, 444 21st Avenue (82 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Fast Jewelry LLC, 263 Main Street (63 alleged violations)
- VIP Jewelry, 185 Main Street (49 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Cimoglu Jewelry 1141 Main Street (42 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Binson Pawn Brokers, Inc., 178 Market Street (40 alleged violations)
- All Out Bail Bonds, 94 Broadway (34 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- United Check Cashing, 430 Madison Avenue (29 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Mira’s Jewelry, 227 Market Street (20 alleged violations)
- Jewelry Express, 238 Main Street (14 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- George Jewelry, 282 Main Street (9 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Golden Textile, 239 Sixth Avenue (8 alleged violations)
- Belki’s Grocery/Bekli’s JM Gold, 356 Union Avenue( 6 alleged violations/ one scale seized)
- Gold Buyer Jewelry, 142 Washington Street (4 alleged violations)
- Galaxie Jewelers, 207 Main Street (3 alleged violations/one scale seized)

Camden (8 stores with a total of 711 alleged violations):

- F.H. Gold Buyers of Philadelphia, 2406-8 Federal Street (363 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Gold Way Jewelry, 204 Broadway (137 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- La Moda/RQ Jewelers, 1825 River Avenue (94 alleged violations)
- Sam Trading, Inc., 2502-A Federal Street (73 alleged violations)
- Broadway Jewelers, 218 S. Broadway (33 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Westfield Gold I Limited, 2720 Westfield Avenue (7 alleged violations)
- J Jewelers, 2501-A Federal Street (3 alleged violations)
- F&C Golden Gate Jewelers, 1498 Mt. Ephraim Avenue (1 alleged violation/one scale seized)

Irvington (5 stores with a total of 223 alleged violations):

- ST Wireless, 1076 Springfield Avenue (211 alleged violations)
- A2Z Electronics & Jewelry, 982 Springfield Avenue (4 alleged violations/ one scale seized)
- Garden State Check Cashing, 29 Union Avenue (4 alleged violations)
- Garden State Check Cashing, 716 Chancellor Avenue (2 alleged violations)
- M & E 1 Jewelry Inc., 1053 Springfield Avenue (2 alleged violations)

Trenton (5 stores with a total of 966 alleged violations):

- Gomez Check Cashing, 1369 Broad Street (780 alleged violations)
- Havis Jewelry, 3 East State Street (176 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- NY Gold Express, 13 East State Street (5 alleged violations/one scale seized)
- Pawn USA Inc., 6 North Broad Street (3 alleged violations)
- Global Currency Service, 410 Lalor Street, Suite A-10 (2 alleged violations)

Teaneck (3 stores with a total of 172 alleged violations):

- Rainbow Jewelry, 491 Cedar Lane (66 alleged violations)
- Teaneck Jewelry Exchange, 565 Cedar Lane (64 alleged violations)
- Tony’s Jewelry, 490 Cedar Lane (42 alleged violations/one scale seized)

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