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FTC Releases Disclosures Guidance for Social Media Influencers

It explains when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers.

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Enlisting social media “influencers” has become a popular way to promote a wide range of products, including jewelry.

Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious to consumers what is and isn’t an ad. The Federal Trade Commission wants to fix that.

The FTC has released a new publication for online influencers that lays out the agency’s rules of the road for when and how influencers must disclose sponsorships to their followers.

The new guide, “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” provides influencers with tips from FTC staff about what triggers the need for a disclosure and offers examples of both effective and ineffective disclosures.

The guide and accompanying videos underscore that the responsibility to make disclosures about endorsements lies with the influencer. The guide outlines the various ways that an influencer’s relationship with a brand would make disclosures necessary, and it reminds influencers that they cannot assume that followers are aware of their connections to brands.

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The guide includes tips for when and how influencers should tell their followers about a relationship. For example, it suggests the words influencers might use, as well as where in their social posts a disclosure should appear.

The new publication summarizes the FTC’s existing guidance in this area, including the FTC’s Endorsement Guides and a 2017 question-and-answer document produced by staff.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Jewelers to Pay $16,000 in Restitution for Scheme Targeting Military Families

They were convicted last year.

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SACRAMENTO, CA – A California jeweler must pay restitution in connection with a scheme targeting military families.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered defendants Ramil Abalkhad, owner of Romano’s Jewelers, and Melina Abalkhad, owner of MBNB Financial Inc., to pay the victims $16,440.56 by May 4, 2020.

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Video: It’s Not My Problem When You Buy a $120 Ring and Your Wife Finds Out It’s ‘Fake’

Video: Things to Remember When Dealing with ‘Gonna Buy’ Jewelry Customers
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Video: Things to Remember When Dealing with ‘Gonna Buy’ Jewelry Customers

“Individuals who participate in despicable crimes by targeting our young men and women in uniform will pay the price,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We hope today’s announcement brings healing and closure to the victims of this scheme. Our office will continue to protect all Californians from all types of fraud – large or small. The California Department of Justice will always have the backs of our military families.”

Romano’s Jewelers had several retail locations in California, including stores near Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, according to a press release from Becerra’s office. The Abalkhads were alleged to have targeted young Marines and sailors, encouraging the purchase of jewelry using MBNB Financial for credit. According to the criminal complaint, Ramil Abalkhad failed to provide legally required disclosures about monthly payments, interest rates and others terms of financing.

Those customers who fell behind on their payments were allegedly harassed by the defendants’ debt collectors. In addition, the complaint alleged that Romano’s Jewelers used debt collectors who falsely posed as attorneys and illegally threatened servicemembers with court martial and other military disciplinary actions.

The California Department of Justice filed a 14-count felony complaint charging the defendants with conspiracy to violate the Unruh Act, which protects consumers who buy goods or services on credit, and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects Californians against unlawful debt collection practices.

Becerra announced the sentencing of the defendants in December 2018. Ramil Abalkhad was sentenced to three years of felony probation, including a requirement that he serve 90 days in jail.

He will also be required to cancel outstanding MBNB debts owed by the victims identified in the criminal complaint and was also ordered to remove any negative credit reporting by MBNB from the victims’ credit history.

Melina Abalkhad was sentenced to complete a misdemeanor diversion program for her role in operating Romano’s Jewelers affiliate MBNB Financial.

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Jewelry Distributor Arrested With $15M in Counterfeit Goods, Police Say

$15M in counterfeit merchandise was seized.

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The owner of a business in the downtown Los Angeles jewelry district has been arrested for allegedly selling counterfeit jewelry.

Moossa Lari is accused of felony trademark violation, according to a press release from the LA Police Department.

Moossa Lari

Investigators conducted several undercover buys and surveillance operations and determined that he was “a major distributor of counterfeit jewelry nationwide,” the release states.

Search warrants were served at multiple locations in the jewelry district on Nov. 7 by LAPD in collaboration with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and Custom Border Protection.

Officers seized about $58,000 in cash and over $15 million counterfeit jewelry with Street value of over $1 million, according to the release. Counterfeit jewelry recovered included fake Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Michael Kors, Cartier, Tiffany Co., YSL, Dior, Calvin Klein, Guess, Van Cleef and Bvlgari pieces.

The counterfeit jewelry was tested at the scene and did not meet U.S. safety standards, the release states.

The standard of acceptable lead and cadmium is 90 parts per million. The seized counterfeit jewelry tested as high as 200,000 parts per million.

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Video: It’s Not My Problem When You Buy a $120 Ring and Your Wife Finds Out It’s ‘Fake’

It’s not the jeweler’s fault she got mad.

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LIKE ANY JEWELER, Cullen Wulf sometimes runs into customers who aren’t looking to spend much money.

Unfortunately, sometimes their expectations are way out of line with what they’re willing to pay.

In the video below, Cullen re-enacts a scenario where he encountered just such a customer — a customer whose wife was unhappy with her sterling silver and CZ anniversary gift.

The customer felt that Cullen was to blame, and Cullen set the record straight.

Take a look.

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