Ministry addresses rash of fake gold
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Ministry addresses rash of fake gold

Gold ornaments are inspected at a gold shop in the Yaowarat area of Bangkok on Friday.
Gold ornaments are inspected at a gold shop in the Yaowarat area of Bangkok on Friday.

The Commerce Ministry is advising people to buy gold bars and gold ornaments from certified stores with visible locations following an outbreak of counterfeit metal as prices spike.

Deputy Commerce Minister Napintorn Srisunpang led officials from the Department of Internal Trade (DIT), the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT) and the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB) to inspect gold shops in the Yaowarat area of Bangkok to ensure sellers abide by the law and reject fake gold as prices rise.

The price of gold ornaments reached a record high of 37,500 baht per baht-weight, prompting some online gold shops to take advantage by selling fake gold in various forms, particularly gold bars.

Referred to as "stuffed gold" in a translated Thai term, these fake gold bars are actually copper or lead gilded with a layer of real gold.

Buyers cannot determine whether a gold bar is real by looking at it with the naked eye because of the coating and the alternative metal having a similar weight.

The visit with gold traders was to foster understanding of trading standards in order to raise consumer confidence, he said.

The ministry ordered the GIT, the central agency responsible for inspecting the purity of precious metals, to issue quality certification to those interested in trading gold.

The DIT is expected to inspect the trading standards of gold shops, checking the accuracy of scales, clear labelling and sales prices, as well as goldsmith's fees.

The ministry is also working with the OCPB to conduct random inspections for counterfeit gold to increase consumer confidence.

"To prevent deception, it is highly recommended people buy gold from a trusted shop or those that clearly display trading prices, membership signs from the Gold Traders Association, or the Buy With Confidence logo issued by GIT," Mr Napintorn said.

"Refrain from buying gold from online shops."

Last year the ministry received more than 1,600 complaints about online scams, he said.

Sumeth Prasongphongchai, director of the GIT, said gold has long been a popular investment and continues to be seen as a safe and reliable investment by many Thais.

He recommends people buy gold from a shop they know well with a distinctive store logo and purity indicator, such as Gold 965.

The GIT established a precious metal testing laboratory that meets International Organization for Standardization requirements, ensuring the same standard applies nationwide to help build confidence.

Udom Srisomsong, deputy director-general of the DIT, said the department issued an announcement requiring gold shops to clearly display prices and use scales that have been certified by the department to create transparency and fairness for consumers.

He said if consumers suspect unfair trading practices or if products do not meet the standards indicated on the label, they can file a complaint through the DIT hotline at 1569.

Mr Udom said sellers who do not display a product's price could be fined up to 10,000 baht.

Selling products at an unreasonably high price or hoarding products could result in a seven-year prison term or 140,000-baht fine.

Using uncertified scales could result in a jail term of up to six months or a 20,000-baht fine, while tampering with scales could result in a seven-year sentence or 280,000-baht fine.

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