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Trading Standards Success thanks to the NAJ’s IRV

Published: 15th January 2019

An outrageous jewellery scam has been successfully prosecuted thanks to the efforts of Registered Valuer Graham Price FIRV.

 A Mansfield woman was extorting money from the public by passing off CZ-set silver and base metal rings as platinum and diamonds. On Thursday 10th January  Ka Man Lam, 27, was fined the sum of £3,000 at Nottingham Crown Court and ordered to pay £26,526 in confiscation, which is the financial benefit of her criminality.

 She received the fine for eight counts of unfair commercial practices and seven counts under the Hallmarking Act, involving the advertisement and sale of earrings and rings, which had been mis-described. The jewellery was advertised on eBay through an online platform called Angel Diamonds.

 The scam was originally bought to the attention of Nottinghamshire Trading Standards by the NAJ, via its IRV forum, around 18 months ago. To ascertain that the items were definitely being mis-described on the online shop, a number were purchased by the NAJ, which then passed them to Nottingham-based Graham Price to value.

 “I looked at the site and was horrified,” he explains. “They were purporting to be selling, for instance, a 1.5ct H VS1 diamond set in platinum for £150! They were playing to the ignorance of the consumer; alarm bells were definitely ringing so I contacted Trading Standards. And when I received the good from the NAJ they were unbelievable. The boxes were worth more than the rings!”

 Once Trading Standards learned the truth following Price’s valuation (the items were first sent to Sheffield Assay Office for confirmation of the metals used and the fact that they were also contravening hallmarking laws) they contacted Angel Diamonds. The business owner initially pleaded ‘not-guilty’ and that she was ‘just a distributor’ and was unaware of the passing off. But in view of the evidence against her eventually conceded and changed their plea to guilty.

 In total over 700 purchases were made – some multiple purchases – with a value that Price estimates to be close to a quarter of a million pounds. The jewellery is manufactured in the Far East.

 Simon Forrester, Chief Executive at the National Association of Jewellers said of the case “We are very pleased to see this sentence being passed down. Consumers must be protected from unscrupulous operators, which is why the NAJ has worked closely with Trading Standards to gather evidence and bring this prosecution.  The National Association of Jewellers is the Primary Authority for UK jewellery sales, maintaining confidence in jewellery bought via NAJ Members. We will continue to champion consumers’ rights alongside our colleagues in Local Authority Trading Standards enforcement.”

 Sheffield Assay Master “I am delighted with this outcome, congratulations to Nottingham Trading Standards. This conviction sends a serious warning out to traders on the internet who are breaking the law and selling articles falsely described and not hallmarked. It also must act as a lesson for purchasers to always ensure that the articles are correctly hallmarked. This is a legal requirement and protects the consumer. I would also ask again for eBay to take some responsibility for this and ensure that items sold on their website are legally compliant and point customers to the Dealers Notice to advise on Hallmarks.”

 Councellor John Handley, vice-chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Comittee said “This is a case where products advertised for sale were not as described, which mislead customers into buying these products. Selling items online was said to be a means of keeping prices down, whereas in reality it meant that people could not physically check items before buying them. Our advice would always be if an item is advertised for sale that seems too good to be true, it usually is.”

Nottingham Trading Standards

This article was originally posted on the National Association of Jeweller’s website 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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