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Gold buyer stiffs area woman with bad check
Buyer says its being proactive with correcting
Cynthia Ray of Ludowici shows the returned check from her transaction with a gold buyer. - photo by Randy C.Murray

A Ludowici resident who recently sold some silver ingots at a buyer’s road show is claiming the items were paid for with a bad check.

“At the time I filed my complaint with the Better Business Bureau, there were only seven other complaints against them,” said Cynthia Ray, who said she sold THR & Associates 4.2 ounces of silver ingots for $113.40. “Now there are 21 complaints. I’m not the only one who got a bad check from them. They operate under several different names, so it’s hard to track some of their history. Still, it looks like THR & Associates has had so-called ‘banking errors’ before. You don’t have three years of banking errors, though.”

Ray said the tiny ingots she sold were given to her by her mother a long time ago. Out of work and trying to survive in a bad economy, she responded to the company’s newspaper ad about paying top dollar for gold, silver, jewelry, antiques – just about anything of value. It seemed like a good way to make some money on something she didn’t really need.

“They had the room set up like the PBS TV program ‘Antique Roadshow,’” she said as she displayed the copy of the bounced check she received from her bank. “I found out though their buyers don’t have to have any special credentials — just a high school diploma. The guy we talked to even tried to get me to sell my wedding ring.

“When I called about the bounced check, I talked with a lady I knew only as ‘Nicki.’ She told my husband and I that we’d receive a certified check the next day, so we were waiting around the house all day that Saturday. No check came. The following Monday, when I called back to speak to Nicki, I was told she was no longer there. I had to speak to ‘Debbie,’ who was supposedly their legal representative.”

Ray said she and her husband have received a new check drawn on another bank with the $10 insufficient funds fee added. So far, that check has not bounced, she said.

According to the BBB, THR & Associates, which held a buyer’s road show April 14 at the Country Inn & Suites on U.S. Highway 84 and Gen. Stewart Way, operates under several different names and travels the country holding buying events for gold, silver, platinum, antiques, guns, toys, tools and collectible items.

Among the many alternative names THR & Associates goes by are Treasure Hunters Roadshow, Ohio Valley Gold & Silver Refinery, International Coin Collectors, National Gun Collectors Association and Mississippi Valley Gold and Silver Refinery.

According to the BBB, THR & Associates responded to their inquiry, verifying they had sent Ray another check via United Parcel Service on April 23 for the original amount plus the bank fee charge for insufficient funds.

The BBB’s report emphasizes that THR & Associates is not BBB-accredited, and that businesses are under no obligation to seek BBB accreditation. Nonetheless, the BBB reports gives THR & Associates a B+ rating, citing complaint volumes filed with the BBB, response to 21 complaints filed against the business in the last three years and resolution of only 10 of those complaints filed against the business.

A search of the internet revealed the company has a history of complaints about bad checks. In a June 11, 2009, article by the Washington Times Herald in Washington, Ind., staff writer Nate Smith noted that 70 checks written by the gold buyer already had or might be returned due to insufficient funds.

An April 30, 2012 article posted by WMAY Radio in Springfield, Ill., said the “thousands” of checks recently bounced were not due to lack of funds. According to that article, THR & Associates said a local bank suddenly closed one of its accounts without explanation, causing about 4,000 checks to bounce. The article notes, however, the company said it’s making good on all the checks.

On Thursday, Matthew Enright, THR & Associates’ vice president for media, responded to media questions about Ray’s complaint and confirmed some of the information in the above article while explaining that his company writes up to 15,000 checks a week.
“About two weeks ago, we received a call from our bank informing us they had elected to close our bank account, giving us no reason why,” Enright said. “We immediately closed down the business for the day and switched to another account. We’re trying to be very proactive with this. The check Ms. Ray received was not marked ‘insufficient funds’ but ‘refer to maker,’ which means the account no longer exists. She has received a new check from us, and we’re trying to make good all checks that were written just prior to this account closing.”

Despite getting a new check from THR & Associates with the bank fees reimbursed, Ray said she has learned a lesson about selling to traveling buyers, a lesson she wishes to pass on to others.

“Don’t sell to these traveling roadshows,” she said. “Go to your local buyer. They’ll still be there if you need to go back to them.”

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