Our industry leaders met in Dallas in early March to discuss the growing problem of counterfeit coins and counterfeit coin packaging.
Then, one of the biggest stories in the coin world last week was the discovery of a series of fake gold bars professionally packaged in an apparently exact knockoff of the packaging design of a leading Swiss precious metals dealer.
These are believed to originate out of China, which seems to be able to counterfeit anything these days. Not only was the “.9999 gold” a counterfeit, but so was the packaging. In recent months, we’ve also heard cases of counterfeit American Eagle bullion coins and phony one-ounce rounds.
In previous years, we have also seen tungsten bars painted over with gold leaf or gold bars with tungsten filling. In an interview with NBC News about these tungsten-filled “gold” bars, I said, “The people who get hit are not the bigger dealers,” since they have the knowledge and the tools to detect counterfeits, but smaller dealers are often fooled.
Whenever gold makes a positive move up, as it has done in the first quarter of 2016, we see ads from coin dealers sprouting up like weeds. Publications have little or no way to check-out advertisers. Their main criterion for reliability is whether their check for the ad’s payment clears the bank. Don’t be tricked by an ad on the Internet or on late-night TV.
As my father always told me when I wanted to stay out late, “Son, nothing good ever happens after midnight.” Always check the industry credentials on any dealer you contact. Recently, the industry-respected Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) launched the PNG Accredited Precious Metals Dealer (APMD) program to help protect consumers and investors in the buying and selling of precious metals. APMD is composed of many of the profession’s most highly-regarded dealers. I am proud to be a PNG Accredited Precious Metals Dealer.
I have taught dozens of courses on numismatics, including advanced techniques for spotting counterfeits. I have been able to help wronged parties get their money back, including an elderly man who sent $84,000 to a counterfeiter last year as well as a doctor who spent $750,000 on counterfeit coins. Working with the Secret Service and law enforcement officials, I was able to get those investors’ the return of their money.
When buying coins, it pays to deal with a reputable dealer who is not only honest in business practices but one who is skilled in numismatics, particularly the detection of counterfeits. You can get hurt by a good person who is not an expert, or by a fraud who poses as a numismatist but has never won an award, never worked with law enforcement agencies or helped anyone recover from a counterfeit coin scammer.
When investigating suspected fraud, I have a lot of allies in law enforcement and numismatics. Over the years, I have worked with the Secret Service, the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC), several state and local law enforcement officials and one very talented investigative reporter in southeast Texas. If you need help with a suspected counterfeit product, feel free to contact a PNG-APMD member (www.PNGdealers.org) and NCIC (www.NumismaticCrimes.org).
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