New black market for jewellery

THE ILLEGAL trading of precious metals on the internet is creating a new black market for stolen jewellery say police and local pawnbrokers.

Ballina pawnbroker and jeweller Clayton Myler says the practice of buying jewellery on the internet is also fraught with peril for buyers.

Mr Myler has lost count of the times he’s seen local residents ripped off.

“Whenever someone comes in to sell a piece of jewellery or get it valued and there is something wrong with it, they usually confess that they bought it on the internet,” he said.

Mr Myler’s advice comes in the wake of a state-wide warning from police for second-hand dealers to cease trading in gold and other precious metals on the internet and through mail services.

Manager of the NSW Police Pawnbrokers Unit, Inspector Kelly Kortlepel said trading gold and other precious metals without face-to-face interaction with a customer is illegal and could assist in the trade of stolen goods.

“It is an illegal activity and police will be cracking down on traders who fail to comply with our direction to cease trading via internet and mail services,” she said.

While Mr Myler has successfully shifted a lot of his business onto the web, he believes the vast majority of online jewellery trading is suspect.

“We tried it a few years back but it simply didn’t work with our strict business practices,” he said, adding his business works closely with police and the Department of Fair Trading to prevent the resale of stolen goods.

“Buyers seemed to expect goods to be stolen and subsequently demanded ridiculous discounts. The internet has created a whole new low in second hand jewellery trading.

“One of the biggest internet scams at the moment is people selling large diamond rings for one fifth or one tenth of the valuation price.

“They are genuine stones at the correct size and weight but they are invariably very, very poor quality pieces.”

Mr Myler also questioned the proliferation of gold buyers coming into town, setting up stalls in shopping centres and buying jewellery by weight.

With gold prices remaining consistently high, the practice of unlicensed traders buying jewellery to melt down could create a new black market for thieves.

Detective Superintendent Ken Hughes, commander of NSW Police Force’s Operational Information Agency said jewellery was the main ‘currency’ for the illegal online trade of precious metals.

He said the problem with internet or mail-order jewellery trading was the difficulty in fully identifying the seller – a strict requirement of the Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act.

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