Three Shady Precious Metal Scams You Should Know About

If you called a precious metals refinery for an over-the-phone appraisal, you would be pretty excited to hear the words, “Your scrap could be worth an awful lot of money.” And you should be happy. The problem is, those words could lure you into one of the precious metal scams that are happening today.

Photo of a scam alert sign, used for a blog post about avoiding precious metal scams by using a reputable recycler like Specialty Metals. Credit: amanalang/iStock/Thinkstock.

It happened to one of our clients recently. He contacted another precious metal refinery to ask about the value of a batch of old eyeglass frames that he owned. The refinery in question told him that his eyeglass frames were probably worth well more than $2,000. But after he sent them in, a representative of the refinery contacted him and said that the frames were worth about $100. At that point the refinery had the frames and since their owner had no way of knowing how much they were really worth, he agreed to let the refinery process them and send him a check for $100, a fraction of what he had been told they were worth on the first call.

How much were the frames really worth? We have no way of knowing, but the story documents one of the scams that are being used to take advantage of people who have quantities of gold and other precious metals that they would like to liquidate.

Here are some scams that we would like you to aware of.

Bait and Switch Misrepresentations

The case study we describe above falls into this category. A consumer contacts a dishonest precious metals refinery, gets an inflated estimate, and then sends in his or her holdings. Then the value suddenly drops. The refineries that practice this scam are simply trying to generate all the business they can from unsuspecting customers. That is dishonest.

There are several ways to avoid this scam. One is to send in only one of the items that you want appraised to any refinery for testing. Another is to call an honest precious metals refinery with a long history of doing business honestly, like us. If we won’t know how much your metals are worth until we test them, we will tell you.

Failing to Explain the Complexities of Testing

We wish that it were simple to test precious metals to establish their value. We wish that there were one simple five-minute procedure that could be used to evaluate any kind of precious metal. But that is simply not the case. If you send us a batch of 500 catalytic converters, or a carton of old computer motherboards, or a collection of used sputtering targets, we will not be able to establish their value with one simple, quick test performed on just one item. Different categories of items require different kinds of testing. Unlike some refineries, we will never say, “Your items should be worth $5,000.” Instead, we will explain how we will test what you have, what that testing might cost, and how long it will take to give you an estimate. Based on the information we provide, you can then make an informed decision about your choices.

Lack of Expertise

This might not be an outright scam, but sometimes a refinery simply lacks the experience to give potential customers all the information they need to make an informed decision about refining their precious metals. At other times, they exaggerate their expertise in order to win new business.

Your defense is to call an experienced precious metals refinery. Hopefully, you will call us. During our many years, we have dealt with just about every kind of recycling project you can name – jewelry, plating scrap, coin collections, catalytic converters, huge quantities of ore and minerals, you name it. When we explain the complexities of assessing and refining what you have, we are speaking from experience.

Why Not Call Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners Today?

Our specialists are waiting at 800-426-2344 to answer questions about your precious metals. Whether you have a vast lot of scrap or a single piece of gold jewelry that you would like to know more about, we are here to answer your questions and provide honest guidance.

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