World Economy

Fake Gold, Silver Coins Flooding US Market

Fake Gold, Silver Coins Flooding US MarketFake Gold, Silver Coins Flooding US Market

In these uncertain economic times, you don’t have to be a miser to consider putting some of your money into precious metals, and gold and silver coins are an easy way to do that.

But this increased demand for bullion coins—like the American Eagle, South African Krugerrand and Canadian Maple Leaf—has created a golden opportunity for forgers, NBCnews reported.

Counterfeit coins are “flooding the market at an astonishing rate,” and compromising the investments of collectors, according to the American Numismatic Association.

“It’s a very serious problem and it’s really scary,” said Rod Gillis, ANA’s education director. “With improved technology, the fakes are getting better. It’s gotten to the point where even people who deal with coins all the time may not be able to recognize a counterfeit coin right away.”

Another veteran coin dealer agrees. “There’s a reliable supply of bogus coins coming from China into the US, and it has been getting more authentic-looking over the years,” said Brad Karoleff, a veteran coin dealer who owns Coins Plus in Cincinnati. “At first, they were laughable, but as they’ve become savvier, they’ve been making counterfeits that look much more like the real thing.”

Get fooled and you could pay $1,300 or more for a counterfeit one-ounce gold piece that’s worthless. And you may not discover you’ve been taken until you go to sell it and a dealer tells you that coin is a fake.

“It is clear there is an increase in the types of fakes sold by unscrupulous dealers,” Dana Samuelson, president of the Professional Numismatists Guild, said in a recent news release warning about the growing problem. “These sales of counterfeit coins are potentially a multi-million dollar problem for the public.”

Coin dealers and pawn shops are also being targeted. Eric Hoolahan, CEO of Bellevue Rare Coins, with several stores around the Seattle area, says criminals are buying these knock-off coins and trying to sell them to stores that may not know how to spot a fake.

“It doesn’t cost them much, so they don’t need to get top dollar,” Hoolahan said. “Even if they get a pawn shop to pay them half the market price, they’re doing great.”