DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Kenny Birdsall worked as a gold buyer at Springfield, Ill.-based THR & Associates, writing checks to people who sold their jewelry at their shows. He says he quit when he discovered the bank had closed the THR account.
“It was very embarrassing,” said Birdsall, who says police put out a warrant for his arrest when the checks he wrote were returned.
CBS 11 went undercover in April when a traveling gold show came to a Waxahachie hotel. We had plenty of gold jewelry. Three different experts estimated the total value of our items at more $6,000 but inside the event, the buyer told our producer some pieces of 18 karat gold jewelry were only 14 karat gold.
When we asked what we could get for all of it, the first offer was just more than $1,100. After a few moments of bargaining-the final offer went up to $1,725 –– still far below the estimated value of $6,000.
Dolly Dubard says nothing in our first story surprised her; she previous worked as a gold buyer for THR.
“What we were told was to make it out that it was nothing but junk. It was all scrap gold,” said Dubard who called that practice “lot buying” and admits she used it to sweep valuable items into the pile.
“What I learned was to lump it all together; don’t even bother going through it to sort out the 18 or 14 or the 10,” said Dubard who also says the company instructed employees to buy gold at less then 10 percent of the value.
When other CBS stations in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania also went undercover at THR gold shows, the offers they received were for less than a quarter of the gold’s estimated value.
“We are not in the biz of lying to people,” said Mathew Enright, a spokesman for THR who denied that the system encourages employees to lie about the value of gold.
Dubard says she even contacted the Attorney General in Illinois, the state where THR has its headquarters.
“I want THR stopped,” said Dubard. “I realize things are business, but when you are hurting elderly people that need that money. That just makes your heart stop.”
THR did not respond to our requests for comment on this follow up story. Other employees are say they, too, are talking to the Illinois Attorney General, and Canadian officials have put out a warning about the company.