Is there a gold rush in Jamaica?
Everywhere you turn these days… even at your home you’ll have people travelling in groups of twos and threes inquiring if you have broken, unwanted or scrap gold jewelry to sell.
Recently, a man on a bicycle came to my gate claiming he was hungry and asked if I had any food I could give him to eat.
Interestingly, I had just done cooked some chicken-back, and asked whether he’d like some. He said yes, and I went back inside to prepare him a meal of chicken back and sliced-bread. On returning to the gate, I noticed two young women had joined the man, whom I handed the meal. Subsequently, the taller of the two women asked if I had any broken, unwanted or scrap gold jewelry selling, and I said no.
Judging the appearance of the women, neither had the financial resources to be purchasing gold at $10,000 per ounce, I questioned:
“So, where do you get all this money to be buying broken gold jewelry for $10,000 per ounce?”
“De boss man we wok fah give we de money,” replied the eldest of the two women.
“Now, when you buy all these broken, unwanted or scrap gold jewelry, what is the boss man doing with them?” I again asked.
“Me nuh know,” came the curt reply, followed by, “Come on yeah man, dis a man nuh seem fe have no mash up gold jewelry fe sell we.” Seemingly agitated, the women walked off down the road, with the man on the bicycle in tow. Two houses down the road, they announced: “Cash4Gold, Cash4Gold.”
Since then, I have failed in my attempts to get any meaningful answers these “Gold4Cash” folks – men and women alike. They all seem cagey in divulging answers about their business. One thing for sure is that they aren’t shy in letting you know they will offer you cash for your broken gold jewelry. But dare not ask them about their business, or where the broken, unwanted or scrap gold are going.
To show that they mean business, these Cash4Gold folks are all equipped with the proper tools, namely scales for measurement, and a scraping implement used to dislodge impurities from the broken jewelry, and an acid solution used to decide authenticity of the gold.
“Is this a legitimate business or is it another scam to have taken over Jamaica?”was the question I posted on Facebook, and thus came he following responses:
Karen Bent: “The price of gold has skyrocketed over the past months so I say a booming business.”
Orville McCulskie: “I think it still is a scam to rob you of (yo)ur gold for little or nothing.”
Cassandra Fuller: “They purchase the gold from u for a small cost; sell it to an overseas dealer for 3 or 4 times that price.”
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Investment, Industry & Commerce, Reginald Buddan, in a recent newspaper report also noted that it was a popular scheme in the USA due to a significant increase in gold prices there. (Source: “Cash-For-Gold Craze In Ja”, Star, Saturday, January 2, 2010).
However, I just feel deep down in my bones that something is not totally above-board with this new business craze. One of the methods used is to quote prices for your gold is based on quantities of 5 oz. or greater. Unless you are very well off (or maybe very careless with you jewelry) it is highly unlikely you will have 5 oz in broken or unwanted jewelry to sell.
What say of our jewelry store owners? If this business is so lucrative, why don’t all the jewelry stores in Jamaica just capitalise on this Cash4Gold craze by just selling out all the gold jewelry in their possession. I am certain they do have access to more gold than the folks in the street buying?
Another concern is that soon, you can’t walk on the streets with your gold jewelry without the fear of someone robbing you of them to make quick cash because there is an unusual demand for the gold. Remember the recent surge in cell phone theft, and even deaths as a result?
The newspaper story to which I referred to earlier, quoted a senior police officer who claimed he knew nothing of this recent “gold rush”. What is the use of the police force intelligence gathering apparatus? Doesn’t it keep its senior officer of abreast of what goes on in the society?
Well, my Google search did not only turn up evidence of this Gold4Cash a thriving business, but there were also reports of various scams associated with it. “Man Accused In Cash-For-Gold Scam,” was the headline of a report out of Aurora where the police there said at least one buyer turned out to be a fraud.
According to the report, the detectives know of several victims already and believe the suspect may have cheated more people. One senior citizen lost thousands. Police said Dwayne Keith Briscoe, 43, was arrested after the elderly woman claimed she gave Briscoe her gold and he gave her a US$27,000 bad check. Briscoe owns a company called Midas Gold.
“The woman gave him several pieces of gold and in return for that she received a receipt or an invoice for that gold and also a check to pay for it,” Shannon Lucy with Aurora police said.
Even though this incident happens in a far away land, Jamaicans – both buyers and sellers – need to be cautious and take heed. According to the Jamaican saying, you must “use sleep mark death.”
Scam or not, be careful how you dispense with your broken, unwanted or scrap gold jewelry, because, it’s not everything that glitters is gold. Also, keep an eye out for gold thieves… who will seek to take advantage of this Gold4Cash craze.
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