Bullion coins are a popular way to invest in gold, and with the current economic climate, demand for these coins is high right now. Unfortunately, scammers are just as keen as investors to make the most out of the situation. The American Numismatic Association is warning consumers to be on the lookout for counterfeits that are getting harder and harder to detect.
Many scammers appear to be importing their counterfeits from China. The country has no laws against creating replicas of collectible or bullion coins as long as they are sold as such – which often isn’t the case when an individual brings a few to a pawnshop or other interested buyer. With increased demand and the ability to operate openly, these overseas operations are producing “replicas” that are nearly mint quality. Fraudsters enhance the ruse even more by packing the coins in authentic-looking collector cases complete with spoofed barcodes and registration numbers.
Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid counterfeits, even if you’re not an expert on coins. A reputable source is your first line of defense. An old saying we’ve heard among collectors in our shop is “if you don’t know coins, you better know your dealer.” Look for someone who has been in business for a while and offers a guarantee on what they sell. If the piece in question comes with authentication papers, barcodes, or a registration number, investigate anyway. If these identifying elements are forged, they won’t hold up to scrutiny when you follow up with the listed grading service. Assays can help as well, but not in every case. If a tungsten slug has enough gold plating, it will pass an acid test. On the other hand, an ultrasound assay will detect consistency of the metal throughout the piece.
If you plan to buy bullion or collectible coins, make sure you do your due diligence and obtain professional opinions when necessary. These days, you can’t be too careful.