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A Question of Ethics

April 26, 2009 by Administrator 

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In a recent issue of Instore Magazine, a regular must read publication for hundreds of jewelers across the country, the following scenario was depicted:

Several weeks after a jewelry buying event, Jimmy was delighted to see Sonia Carrell come into the store. She and her husband John had been coming to the island every year for as long as he could remember, right up till last year. Jimmy had heard from neighbors that the Carrells had decided to stay in Maryland last winter, and while he spotted John very briefly at the buying event, he never quite got around to saying hello. As he greeted Sonia, Jimmy noticed that she looked rather tired and worn out. He got the usual rundown when he asked about her college-age son, her older daughter and their beautiful granddaughter, but was taken aback when he asked, “So, where’s John today?” Sonia replied, “I have no idea — but if you see him, let me know so I can leave the island!” The expression on Jimmy’s face must have conveyed his surprise, because Sonia said, “Oh – I’m sorry. I guess you haven’t heard…” She proceeded to tell him about John’s affair with a young assistant at his law firm, and a very ugly divorce that dragged on for over a year. She said that the worst of it was that in the middle of all the fighting, someone had broken into her house and stolen all of her jewelry and several pieces of expensive art. She believed that John was behind it — as a way to get back at her for demanding a hefty settlement — but neither she nor the local police could prove anything. She said that while her insurance covered the financial end of the loss, the sentimental value of many of the jewelry items could never be replaced.

As soon as Sonia had pulled out of the parking lot, Jimmy went back through the receipts from the gold-buying events and felt his heart sink as he saw one with John Carrell’s name on it. He saw that one of his friends had taken care of John, who sold several gold bracelets, a couple single earrings, a pair of platinum wedding bands and a diamond fashion ring — for a total of $1,860. State law requires that merchandise bought over the counter remain in the store for a full 30 days before disposition, so Jimmy was able to look at the pieces in John’s envelope. Despite his sincere hope to the contrary, he was not surprised to find the envelope filled with pieces that he had sold to John over the years.

Jimmy double checked all the documentation and was relieved to find that the transaction was handled perfectly and every detail was in compliance with state and local regulations. Nonetheless, the whole thing left him with a queasy, uncomfortable feeling, believing that he had some sort of responsibility to Sonia — but not knowing exactly what to do about it.

THE BIG QUESTIONS: Should Jimmy get involved at all? Is his obligation to John — one of confidentiality and the discretion promised to all of his clients — or is it to Sonia — one of friendship and integrity? He knows for certain that the pieces were sold to John, but he has no way of knowing for sure that Sonia’s story is anything more than just her side of an ugly tale. Is he obligated to notify the local or Maryland police of his suspicion, or should he let the rest of the 30-day waiting period expire, then dispose of the items, along with all the rest?

It is our feeling here at The San Diego Luxury Pawn Shop Report that only one moral and ethical answer exists. If a jeweler, pawn shop, or jewelry buyer has ANY suspicion that the goods sold them were obtained fraudulently, then the police should be notified immediately. End of discussion.

San Diego Pawn Shops, Gold Buyers, Gold Refineries, & More

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