COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Forget Mary Kay or Tupperware parties. Columbus Police say the newest fad in the city when it comes to hosting soirees is gold buying.
"What's happening is, business people are coming in from out of town and they'll call you or be put in contact with you to have a gold party at your house where you call all your friends and they bring all their scrap gold and jewelry to your house. They'll sell it to the individual and you'll get a cut of what he buys. He'll pay you for having the party," explained Lieutenant Gil Slouchick with the Columbus Police Department.
It's quick cash in hard times.
And officials say it's not just happening in homes. Parties have been reported at local hair salons and hotels.
But more often then not, police say they're illegal because the merchants don't have a Columbus business license to deal in second hand jewelry.
"There's certain requirements you have to meet to get that license. One is background checks of your employees. You have to keep a log of what you buy and who you buy it from. You have to hold property for fifteen days and your books have to be open for inspection by us just like any pawn shop or other business in Columbus that buys gold or silver," Slouchick said.
Officials with the city business license office say that buyers have come from Atlanta and even as far as Pennsylvania for parties.
And police say they've shut down several gold-buying functions at local hotels.
Those businesses who are buying and selling gold the proper way, are concerned the wrong people might get an invite to these parties.
"If thieves can find a way to fence merchandise without ever being caught, this is an open door opportunity for them. They have to show no ID, no thumbprint. They're going to take that opportunity to fence that stolen property without it being traceable," said Wendy Reese, Manager of Wild Bill's Jewelry and Pawn in Columbus.
If you're considering having one of these parties, officials suggest checking with the city to make sure the merchant is properly licensed.
Police say they are making cases against anyone buying gold and jewelry without a license.
Business and homeowners hosting such parties could also be considered party to the crime.
City officials say it takes at least two weeks to receive a business license once the application process is finished and approved.