Beware Counterfeit Coins Sold Online

Counterfeiters are using Amazon.com and Facebook, as well as their own online “coin dealer” websites to hawk fake gold and silver coins to unsuspecting investors, according to the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation (ACEF).

“Chinese counterfeiters are blowing up the web selling fake silver and gold coins that may look like the real thing at first glance but certainly are not,” said Doug Davis, Anti-Counterfeiting Director of the ACEF. “We now are tracking more than 300 websites selling fakes, many of them apparently operated by the same individuals or companies, but often under different company names.”

Responding to an online ad, a Texas investor spent $499 for a one-ounce American Gold Eagle coin and received a counterfeit. A genuine coin would have been valued at $1,950 at the time of his purchase. He spent another $500 on 50 one-ounce American Silver Eagle coins, just one-quarter of what the price of genuine Silver Eagles should have been. They too were fakes, apparently made in China, according to the ACEF.

Chinese counterfeiters are known to copy the most popular gold and silver bullion coins, particularly American Eagles, South African Kruggerands, and Canadian Gold Maple Leaves. 

Amateur coin collectors may detect counterfeits by checking inscriptions—of note, bullion coins do not feature a mint mark; weighing a coin—one-ounce American Gold Eagles weigh precisely 33.931 grams; measuring a coin’s dimensions using a caliper—one-ounce American Gold Eagles are 32.70 millimeters in diameter; and, for those willing to invest in a sensitive rare earth magnet, determining if the coin is magnetic—American Gold Eagles are not magnetic (they are produced from 91.67 percent gold and 3 percent silver, with the balance comprised of copper.)

The best assurance of avoiding counterfeits is to purchase only from a reputable dealer, such as Nationwide Coin and Bullion Reserve.