Unfortunately, bullion counterfeit activity is just as strong as ever. Sometimes, a standard assay is enough to reveal fake bullion for what it is. But sometimes, if a counterfeiter is especially skilled, even experienced bullion buyers can be fooled. Aside from using common sense, use these tips to avoid buying fake bullion products:
Know the bullion dealer’s reputation – Before you buy, check the seller’s references and make sure they are an authorized dealer. In most cases, an Internet search can get you the information you need. Generally, bigger brands have established reputations and provide authentication with purchase.
Read certificates of authenticity – Most folks just stash authenticity documents away with the bullion, but if you’re serious about avoiding counterfeits, you should read them. A cautionary tale: just a few years ago, some refining companies were caught forging assay reports. These reports stated they were from a well-known assayer here in the Diamond District, but an original report was scanned and modified to create their fake reports. These reports were for scrap gold bars, not pure gold. However, this could easily been done for bullion as well. At MGS, the gold bars we sell are sealed, certified, and labeled with a serial number and QR code for authentication purposes.
Ask about counterfeit proofing methods – Even legitimate bullion sellers can fall prey to counterfeiters. Ask about how they prevent fake bullion products from entering their inventories.
Compare with originals – If you can, compare the bullion you’re planning to buy with a certified original. Comparing the two (even just pictures of them) can reveal inconsistencies if the piece in question is counterfeit.
Test diligently – Utilize professional assaying services, especially for bulk purchases. If at all possible, have the bullion assayed before your payment clears. That way, you can cancel it if necessary. Don’t forget, if you’re investing in the piece’s metal value, and not collectable value, then there is no need to maintain complex packaging.