Beware of sending away your gold for cash

LOS ANGELES But companies may promise you a pot of gold, but what they pay may be worth no more than the pot itself.

"Send us your broken and unwanted gold and we'll cut you a check, same-day, guaranteed," claims an ad on the Cash Your Gold Now website.

And that's the pitch Claremont-based Cash Your Gold Now is making for your gold. The company is offering "instant cash" and says it will pay 30 percent more than what your gold is worth.

Larry Harris was sold on selling his gold after watching an infomercial for Cash Your Gold Now.

"The advertisement stated it would pay three to four times more than your local pawn shops," said Harris.

Harris claims a local pawn shop offered him $380 for several pieces of broken gold, rings, chains, pendants and bracelets.

So Harris and his wife Nancy figured they could get even more sending their jewelry to Cash Your Gold Now.

"I was upset," said Nancy.

"I said 'no way,'" said Larry.

A few weeks later he did get a check for just $30.

Harris sent back the check and called the company several times. He saved some of those messages when the company called him back.

"Hi, this is Cash Your Gold Now calling for Larry Harris. We need a U-R-N number so we can update your account," said a voice on Harris's answering machine.

While his account may have updated, Harris was later told his gold was melted down.

"I have nothing as of this day. Nothing," said Harris.

Cash Your Gold Now is run by Kelly Media Group, an Upland-based marketing company that's headed by Jason Cardiff.

"If you don't like the amount of money you got for your gold, which doesn't happen very often -- less than 2 percent of the time -- they will send you all of your gold back to you, absolutely free," said Cardiff in an online ad on the Cash Your Gold Now website.

Cardiff appears on Cash Your Gold Now's website, where he's not identified as the company's founder, but as a so-called "financial expert."

When Eyewitness News tried to speak with Cardiff at his Upland office, they locked the doors.

When a phone call was made, they said Cardiff didn't work there and hung up.

Later, Eyewitness News did speak with Cardiff's attorney, who said that customers don't always follow the rules specified in the contract with the company.

Cash Your Gold Now issued this statement: "In many cases, you will see that the initial customer dissatisfaction was not with something that the company did wrong. Rather, the complaint was a result of the customer's own failure to abide by clearly articulated and prominently disclosed policies."

Cash Your Gold Now says if customers are not satisfied with the amount offered to them, they have eight days to send back the check.

The company agreed to look into eight specific complaints lodged against it. The company said that several of those complaints involved customers who turned in their checks late and then later complained their gold had been smelted.

The company claims it resolved five of the complaints, but Eyewitness News didn't find a single customer that we contacted who was happy with the settlement offered by Cash Your Gold Now.

"It is unscrupulous. It's outrageous," said Bill Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau of the Southland. His agency has received at least 44 complaints about Cash Your Gold Now. The BBB gives the company its lowest "F" rating, the only gold-buying company in Southern California with an "F" grade.

The attorney for Cash Your Gold Now responded with this statement: "The transactions are designed to be fair and to give customers plenty of time to think about the offer and accept or reject it. As you know, satisfied customers rarely go to complaint websites, or to the BBB, to crow about how well they have done."

Many dissatisfied customers of Cash Your Gold Now say the company offered them substantially less than their gold was worth.

But the company told Eyewitness News that many people send in items with tiny traces of gold or products that are gold in color but contain no precious metal.

Another gold-buying company, Cash4Gold, also has a poor rating from the BBB and has been under investigation by the Office of the Attorney General of Florida.

"Unfortunately, people send their jewelry to these companies and invariably they'll get a check back pretty quickly for peanuts," said Mitchell.

These companies appear to be doing a gold rush of their own, because the precious metal is so expensive and many consumers need extra money just to survive these days.

Larry Harris says he's learned a lesson from his experience.

"Do not send your gold, that's what I would tell them. Do not do it," said Harris.

Part 2 of Ric Romero's gold series: Selling your gold? Shop around, get estimates

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