UPDATE: Seller, beware
Gold-buying carpetbaggers set up shop in hotel
Another out-of-state gold buying company has set-up shop in a local hotel in hopes of separating local citizens from their valuable gold, silver and collectible items.
This week, GoldRush took out a full-page advertisement in the Beaumont Enterprise announcing "Top Dollar Paid" on items brought to its sale at the Hilton Garden Inn. But just like three previous companies that have come through town promising big payouts but offering pennies on the dollar, GoldRush was right on cue.
On Tuesday, The Examiner brought in its entire supply of coins, scrap gold and bullion - valued at more than $43,000 - and was offered $11,600, or about 25 cents on the dollar.
One of the coins offered to GoldRush was a 1909 $5 Gold Indian NGC-graded in Mint State 65 condition. According to buy sheets from Heritage Auction Galleries, the largest collectibles auction company in the world, the coin could be sold for $13,800 on that day. GoldRush offered only $2,000 despite its "Top Dollar" promises. A 1925 $2.5 Gold Indian NGC-graded MS66, which could be sold that day for $10,500, and a 1905 $20 Gold Eagle PCGS-graded MS63 that could be sold for $11,600, brought offers of $2,500 and $1,500, respectively.
In all, there were nine graded collectible coins including a Cason City Silver Dollar, a dozen proof sets and six gold and silver bullion coins.
During the visit, Bruce Aragona, the company representative for GoldRush, used the Internet video-chat program 'ooVoo' to communicate and provide video images of the coins to a person named "Jeff." Aragona explained that they were verifying the coins' grade with the Numismatic Guarantee Company (NGC) and actually looking at images of the coins in the database and comparing it to the ones in the holders being offered for sale.
Mike Fuljenz, CEO of Universal Coin & Bullion in Beaumont, said the fact that the company was looking up the coins proves its buyers knew the value.
"Just as easy as they could look up the coin on NGC's Web site, they could also use Numismedia services to look up prices," Fuljenz said. "That would have shown them just how far below the true value they were paying. Numismedia is a respected price guide that would have ensured they were paying top dollar for the coins they were looking up."
When confronted on Wednesday about the previous day's offer, Aragona became upset and accused the reporter of being rude.
"You gotta do what you gotta do," Aragona said. "You trying to get sympathy from me? It is business. It is as simple as that. When you go to buy a used car, is it worth what they are charging you. Your newspaper is not worth a dime, I can tell you that right now. You are as low as low gets."
Aragona continued making references to buying used cars and loaves of bread before telling the reporter to leave the hotel's conference room.
A background check into GoldRush found that it is owned by Jeffrey Franc and is located at 8150 Twin Lake Drive Boca Raton, Fla. A satellite view of the address on Google Earth shows the location provided to the BBB is a residence. On its Web site, the company claims to hold an A+ rating from the BBB but the BBB has the company listed with an A rating. The company's phone number also comes back to a www.jeffreyfranc.com, which offers jewelry for sale online.
Jay Sheppherd of the BBB of Southeast Texas said people should obtain the value of their items before selling them, but she encourage people to steer clear of hotel gold buyers and instead use local, reputable companies. She said local companies have ties to the community and offer fair prices and the money benefits the local economy.
"Nobody wants to be taken advantage of and you want to make sure you get the proper value for what your collectible is," Sheppherd said.