New Jersey officials have announced the launch of a year-long statewide investigation of "cash for gold" stores, but the owners of these establishments aren't the only ones who should watch out. If you're looking to sell, make sure you don't get duped.

Steve Lee, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) used much of a Thursday morning press conference to inform consumers about the "legal" way jewelry stores should purchase your precious metals.

State law requires, among other things, that the buyer weigh the goods and test their fineness "within clear sight of the seller," according to Steve Lee, acting DCA director.

"If the buyer tries to do tests or tries to weigh those metals outside the presence of the seller, something's wrong, and that should be a red flag," Lee explained.

The buyer must also use a scale that has been certified by the state. Sellers can help themselves by checking for an official blue seal on the scale, as well as the date on that seal.

Sellers also have the right to be suspicious if the store has no signs posted that clearly show the prices offered for various products.

Along with the crackdown launch, officials announced a recent sweep that resulted in 936 citations for 21 jewelry stores across north and central Jersey. More than 200 violations were allegedly spotted at International Gold Buyers in Edison, which failed to follow some of the rules above, and failed to maintain receipts with information that's required by law, in order to fight the sale of stolen jewelry.

Lee said the next few months will feature undercover operations and unannounced inspections at jewelry shops throughout New Jersey that offer to buy precious metals from consumers.