Fur coats purchases being used as a cover for buying gold
Published: 5th February 2021
Former Senior Trading Standards Officer, retired member of the British Hallmarking Council and active Guardian at Sheffield Assay Office, Mr Robert Grice, has written this detailed article to help warn of the perils of the Fur Coat / Gold scam currently taking place in Germany.
For many people times are hard, and they are struggling to cope financially. The economic situation is forcing many to sell items in order to raise cash. Generations of people have faced this situation through the decades and have often had to sell their possessions in order to live. Such circumstances always present the fraudsters with an opportunity to practise their deceit and to prey upon the vulnerable and uninformed.
Whilst recently watching German television, I came across the latest scam being practised in Germany - The Fur Coat / Gold Scam. Although I have not seen this scam in the UK yet, there is no doubt that it will soon appear - fraudsters are always alert to an opportunity to get rich quick, and for them - ‘the streets are paved with gold’.
Adverts have started to appear in newspapers and circulars asking people if they wish to sell their fur coats. The fraudsters know of course that fur coats are often associated with elderly ladies; some of whom may be in need of money and may be prepared to sell their old fur coat (after all fur coats are no longer as fashionable as they once were). The fraudsters are also well aware that elderly ladies often possess various items of jewellery, gold and silver. This combination of factors provides the perfect backcloth for the latest scam, which is played out as follows.
- The lady (elderly or otherwise) answers the advert and says that she has a fur coat to sell.
- The person (fraudster) then visits the home of the lady and examines the fur coat/s. He then gains the confidence of the lady and tells her that unfortunately the value of the fur coat/s is not very high. However, since he is there, it may also be the case that she has some old jewellery to sell and he could have a look at that. The stage is now set.
- The lady then produces her jewellery, gold, silver and asks the man if he can take a look at it (after all, she had been thinking of selling some of it). The fraudster then says that of course he would be prepared to look at it and to offer a fair price.
- Now, surprise, surprise - the fraudster (still gaining the confidence of the lady) produces a set of scales and a chemical set with which to test the gold / silver. Clearly, being equipped with such items, he was never really interested in the fur coat/s. All a ruse to gain access to jewellery, silver and gold.
- The fraudster examines the items (sometimes weighing them and sometimes not) and then offers his ‘fair’ price. Now you will not be surprised to learn that the ‘fair price’ offered is actually about one third of the real value.
- When the lady seems surprised at the low value of her precious items, the fraudster spins his tale. Some of these items are not real gold. He has overheads to pay. The price shown per gram on the stock market does not reflect the actual price that buyers have to deal with, etc. However, he understands her position and does want to be fair, therefore he is prepared to offer a little more.
- If the lady accepts the offer, the scam is complete (another consumer defrauded) and the fraudster takes his ill gotten gains.
In the programme that I watched on German television, this scenario was filmed using hidden cameras, with jewellery experts being in attendance behind the scene watching the drama as it unfolded. However, no enforcement agency was present. This was merely a consumer television programme attempting to warn the public of this scam.
When the fraudster was confronted by the television crew, and the jewellery expert, he stated that his price was the price that he was prepared to offer. If they (the TV crew and the expert) thought that the items were worth more, then they could buy the items from the lady. The fraudster then simply left the premises.
Whilst watching the programme, I noticed that the scales used to weigh the gold (when scales were used) were a small digital pair of scales. Whether they were legal, or not, was not commented on by the programme narrator. Certainly the price offered was not made in relation to weight.
So, the moral of this story –
Fur coats can hide a multitude of things: fraudsters, unfair values, inaccurate weighing machines, deceit and theft.
Watch out for this latest scam to reach the shores of the UK. Rather like the latest blockbuster, it will be coming along shortly.
Never sell your jewellery, gold or silver at home (do not even tell people that you have these items at home). Like most things under your fur coat, keep them hidden.
- The Trading Standards Service is there to offer assistance
- The UK Assay Offices are there to give you expert, accurate and honest assessments of your precious gold and silver items.
To find out more about Jewellery and Precious Metals Analysis here at Sheffield Assay Office, click here.
The Sheffield Assay Office was established in 1773, under an Act of Parliament and today the company assays and hallmarks the precious metals - silver, gold, platinum and palladium. Sheffield Assay Office is one of only four UK assay offices who all work to uphold the Hallmarking Act of 1973 and continue to ensure consumer protection for customers purchasing precious metals.
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