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November 22, 2012

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Jewelry's gold coat fools pawn shops

SIX members of a ring who used silver accessories covered in a thin layer of gold to cheat eight local pawn shops out of 260,000 yuan (US$41,709) were charged with contract fraud yesterday, local prosecutors said.

The ring leader, surnamed Zhu, was a goldsmith. Zhu said he learned the "gold coat" trick after being cheated by someone else.

"My eyes turned green when I learned the business was so profitable. The trick is very easy. I have the skills and I can do it better than common people," Zhu told prosecutors.

Zhu confessed that he hired five people to help him pawn the necklaces, which were represented as solid gold during a total of 18 visits to the pawn shops, prosecutors said.

They used fake identity cards and defrauded the pawn shops in February.

Experts could easily find the flaws in the fake necklaces, but pawn shops were just too careless to check, Zhu said.

The trick was discovered by an employee, surnamed Zhao, at one of the pawn shops in March. Zhao found the necklaces' weight was off and sent them to the National Center of Quality Supervision and Inspection of Gold-Silver Products in Shanghai.

An examination report showed the suspect necklaces were silver with a thin coating of gold. Police began to investigated after Zhao contacted them on March 30.

The other pawn shops did not know about the fakes until contacted by police.

The maximum penalty for contract fraud is life in prison.


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