Gold Buyer Ripped Off Consumers With Spring Rigged Scale

It sounds like a carnival trick, a spring secured underneath the weighing platform that would push back when items were weighed.

It was actually a gold buyer’s scale that was rigged so that it would give lower payouts, and it was one of several inaccurate scales confiscated during A NJ Precious Metals Task Force undercover dragnet, Codenamed “Operation Bling”, that ended in 49 different local gold and jewelry buyers receiving citations for having inaccurate scales that resulted in consumers getting less cash for their gold.

With gold and fear at record levels, precious metal buyers are eager to gobble up whatever you will shake out of your jewelry box for a few bucks. The gold rush has lead to some unscrupulous players to enter the market.

“Some of the buyers defrauded consumers, short-weighing their items and likely paying them less than the true value of the items,” NJ AG Paula T. Dow said at a press conference. “We found violations statewide and we’re putting the industry on notice that we won’t tolerate the cheating of consumers.”

Watch out, gold buyers, New Jersey just got classy on you!

New Jersey Says Gold-Buying Firms Cheated Consumers [Consumer Affairs] (Thanks to David!)

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  1. somnambulist80 says:

    It’s funny how those inaccurate scales never favor the seller.

    • nbs2 says:

      I don’t think anybody is alleging that the inaccuracies are accidental. Well, except for the scam artists.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Again with these operation names? Is there someone who they hire to name these things? Like “Operation In Our Sites”.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      Come on, I thought Operation Bling was hilarious!

    • PsiCop says:

      I agree the moniker “operation” is way overused, but this one was more clever than many others. That said, I think I will submit “operation” to the folks at Lake Superior State University who manage the Banned Words List.

    • eccsame says:

      So what would be a better word to replace “Operation”? Maybe “Mission Gold Grab”? Or, perhaps, “Departmental Enforcement Procedure Rumpelstiltskin”?

      • PsiCop says:

        I don’t know that any replacement word is needed. I think what’s needed is to stop stamping clever labels on things.

        Barring that, maybe “Bling Investigation” instead of “Operation Bling”?

    • NewGrace says:

      The name “Operation Bling” is easy to explain. First off, its an operation, so “Operation”. The second part is to differentiate it from other operations that have occured recently, so resources and documentation dont get mixed up between operations. For how creative you name it, depends on the agent running the investigation. I had a drug operation we called “Operation Mad Hatter”, with each of the main players having a code name from “Alice in Wonderland”. It was a small drug op, but half the fun of the investigation is coming up with the names. In the paperwork, we dont use real names, so as we file these reports and use them in interviews or to get assistance from other agencies, the subjects of the investigations (and witnesses) dont get identified.

      Operation Bling may seem obvious, but if the agency has 100+ of these operations going, spread out over the last 2 years, nobody is going to easily recognize what the name means. Operation GoldMember would of been a little to obvious.

  3. Tim says:

    This seems unnecessary. Don’t most scales have some sort of a calibration adjustment? Can’t you just adjust that instead of actually going into the thing and putting a spring in there?

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      If you adjust the calibration, it wont show up as 0 when its empty.

    • Veeber says:

      It might be noticeable though since the scale wouldn’t be at zero. The spring is handy since it can display zero when nothing is on the plate, but as you add more material the spring is engaged so it’s less likely to be noticed without sufficient scrutiny.

    • 47ka says:

      Perhaps the spring wasn’t in contact with the plate when nothing was on it, allowing the scale to be tared normally, but became engaged when items were placed on top.

    • Zagro says:

      TCama ..
      They put the spring in just under the scale plate so it shows fine for less than 1 gram so they can zero the scale out. and show small amounts under 1 gram properly.

      if they didn’t do this the scale would show a negative number.

      And or require custom firmware.
      the spring is easier for the simple minded.

      I suggest you bring your own digital scale with you
      if theres more than a 5% difference between the two scales come back after you check your scale for accuracy.
      And if your scale shows accurate. when you do come back hide a camera in your pocket :)

  4. SaltWater says:

    Ah, NJ…
    Operation Bling gave the badda-boom to scammers.
    Badda-bing!

  5. gekvanoranje says:

    Now if they could just create a task force to address why everyone’s turn signal in NJ ended up being broken….

  6. The Doctor says:

    With the number of “Cash 4 Gold” signs that have popped up around this hellish state I call home, it hardly surprises me.

    What does surprise me is that it didn’t happen sooner.

  7. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I’d like them to try to tell me my one-ounce Krugerrands don’t weigh one troy ounce apiece.

    • Coelacanth says:

      I was thinking along the same lines…

    • Hilltopper says:

      That’s exactly what happened to me. They claimed my Krug was underweight and tried to low-ball me. Sorry Charlie. Homey don’t play that game. I took it back and visited the coin dealer a few blocks away who gave me my $1214.

  8. kingdom2000 says:

    If I was a Republican/Conservative/Tea Party, this news should be very upsetting as it once again shows how government interferes with small business.

    • fsnuffer says:

      The Fair, Accurate, Retail Transaction Act (FART) of 2010 which would create a new government agency that would hire 19,000 unionized scale checkers to ensure protection of the 1% of people who are too stupid to realize there are dishonest people out there waiting to take money their money.

    • fsnuffer says:

      If I was a Democrat, Liberal, Progressive looking to regulate every aspect of peoples lives I would draft the Fair, Accurate, Retail Transaction Act (FART) of 2010 which would create a new government agency that would hire 19,000 unionized scale checkers to ensure protection of the 1% of people who are too stupid to realize there are dishonest people out there waiting to take money their money.

      • Nytmare says:

        Sure. Blaming the victim is always the best way to fix industry corruption.

        • veritybrown says:

          No, revealing the corruption is the best way to stop industry corruption, because the negative publicity has an impact on their bottom line. Among 19,000 unionized scale checkers, how many would actually be immune from bribery or intimidation?

    • DH405 says:

      Please don’t troll the ‘baggers.

  9. NumberSix says:

    Rigged scale? That’s a stabbin’.

  10. zimmi88 says:

    “Operation Bling”… now that’s a name Flavor Flav could approve of. =P

  11. Sheogorath says:

    So they issued citations…did they get the people who were ripped off the money they deserve?

    • MikeM_inMD says:

      Yeah, the tooth fairy will be mailing out the checks just as soon as the Easter bunny double-checks all the information.

    • OldSchool says:

      Exactly, a citation is utterly inadequate. That would be intentional, criminal fraud. They should be serving agood long time in a cold, dark cell.

      Somehow the citizens of the US need to correct the consequences to the financial criminals who cause far more damage to society then say an armed robber but get trivial punishment in comparison. We know our current leaders won’t do it, they are in bed with these very people.

    • mac-phisto says:

      from the article: “the New Jersey Office of Weights and Measures has cited 49 gold and jewelry buying businesses with more than 1,600 summonses for alleged violations of state statutes…”

      that’s a lot of citations. the article also says that all precious metal dealers have to post a $5,000 bond with the state to operate, so i’m going to guess that at the very least, the dealers accused of the most egregious violations will forfeit that bond. hopefully the real baddies also lose the right to work in the industry for the rest of their lives & have their inventory seized & liquidated.

    • jsl4980 says:

      The state is having a budget crisis and they’re looking for income, those fines are going right to the state. The state isn’t going to put effort into getting money for anyone else. Hopefully customers can sue on their own.

  12. Ouze says:

    How much will the average citation cost? I mean, did they make more through the fraud then they will pay out in fines?

  13. NewGrace says:

    The name “Operation Bling” is easy to explain. First off, its an operation, so “Operation”. The second part is to differentiate it from other operations that have occured recently, so resources and documentation dont get mixed up between operations. For how creative you name it, depends on the agent running the investigation. I had a drug operation we called “Operation Mad Hatter”, with each of the main players having a code name from “Alice in Wonderland”. It was a small drug op, but half the fun of the investigation is coming up with the names. In the paperwork, we dont use real names, so as we file these reports and use them in interviews or to get assistance from other agencies, the subjects of the investigations (and witnesses) dont get identified.

    Operation Bling may seem obvious, but if the agency has 100+ of these operations going, spread out over the last 2 years, nobody is going to easily recognize what the name means. Operation GoldMember would of been a little to obvious.

  14. Extractor says:

    Excellent name for operation. They just need the other 49 states to do the same.

  15. PBallRaven says:

    So, everyone who plans on selling gold should invest in a certified 1 pound weight and use it to check the scales accuracy?

  16. Mogbert says:

    To be fair, when they tested gas pumps to see if they were accurate, the majority of inaccurate pumps favored the customer.
    However, I think there needs to be a clear difference between “Scale not accurate” and “Scale disassembled, modified in order to cheat customers, and reassembled.” I doubt anyone was confronted with their tampering and shout “So THAT’S where that spring went! I’ve been looking all over for it!”
    But to tell the truth, scales are only one way they cheat customers. People with an ounce of sense should know better then to trust them.

  17. DragonThermo says:

    Oooo! They were “cited”. I bet that *really* scared them. The fine they’ll have to pay is probably about what they cheat out of people in a day.

    An appropriate response is to return peoples’ property (letting them keep whatever cash the crook gave them) or a full market value refund of the property, destroy the scales, and throw the crooks in Shawshank Prison for a few years. If they survive long enough to get parole, a ban on owning or being within 20 feet of a scale or weighing device for 30 years.

  18. tomcat1483 says:

    Two things I loved about this “Precious Metals Task Force” and the Code name “Operation Bling”, I can see it now on NBC this fall Law & Order PMTF “Precious Metals Task Force”.

  19. peebozi says:

    what’s with the government stepping in and trying to regulate PRIVATE COMMERCE?!?!?

    the free market would have worked this one out itself.