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Grading Companies Which Sell Their Own Slabs

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Morgan Fred
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United States
2684 Posts
 Posted 08/27/2006  12:11 am Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

The question came up in another thread about certain grading services selling their own slabbed coins and the level of proof needed to demonstrate this fact. This is not an easy task since many, if not most of the non-tiered non-rated boiler room "alphabet soup" grading companies do not have websites offering their services to others and thus are difficult to trace and match locations, names, and ownerships. It stands to reason that a coin grading company newly established for the purpose of selling over-graded and/or problem coins in their own encapsulations would slab and sell their own coins first to get the business started, then progress to overgrading other sellers' coins. It is also logical that such a grading company would be easiest to trace early in the life of their business when their slabs have not yet been widely disseminated. This then is the trick: do this detective work early on when a new "grading company" emerges so that a seller who offers a large number of slabbed coins from a new company may be matched with the company itself. In some instances, the company's website domain registration information gives them away http://www.directnic.com/whois/ ; this is far less time consuming than trying to match an eBay seller with a particular grading company.

It has already been demonstrated that Star Grading Service (SGS) and seller aboncom are one and the same: http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/...OPIC_ID=5135

The most recent new grading companies of which I am aware are Hallmark Coin Grading Service (HCGS), Certified Coin Grading Service (CCGS) and American Numismatic Institute (ANI).

HCGS's website http://www.hcgshallmark.com/ no longer functions. I believe it has been around for a few months and when it first came to our attention, it quickly became obvious it dramatically overgraded coins and may have slabbed some problem (cleaned, damaged) coins. It's domain is registered to a person in Emeryville, CA, but most offerings on eBay in the past month have been by sellers in Florida followed by a seller in Illinois (who, BTW, does not accept returns on "slabbed" coins). It may be too late to trace HCGS since it may have gone out of business. It also may be presumed that HCGS was a cut-and-run outfit which made its money, then departed the scene.

CCGS http://www.ccgscoins.com/ made it easy for me. It's Registrant's name is Richard Howard of Leipsic, OH (despite its website's claim that it is owned, for the moment by one Mike Lys, apparently from Michigan where submissions [no longer accepted] were sent). Not coincidentally, eBay seller howardsdirect of Leipsic, OH sells a LOT of CCGS slabbed coins:
http://coins.search.ebay.com/_Coins...owardsdirect

As mentioned on the CCGS website, CCGS has been sold, but its new owner has not been identified. From the WhoIs site:

Registrant:
CCGS
128 E Main Street
Leipsic, OH 45856
US

Domain name: CCGSCOINS.COM

Administrative Contact:
Howard, Richard leminfresh@yahoo.com
128 E Main Street
Leipsic, OH 45856
US
1 419-575-0525
Technical Contact:
Administrator, Domain domreg@bizland-inc.com
70 Blanchard Road
Burlington, MA 01803
US
+1.8665999964 Fax: +1.7819988586

Registration Service Provider:
AccountSupport, support@accountsupport.com
This company may be contacted for domain login/passwords,
DNS/Nameserver changes, and general domain support questions.


Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 22-Dec-2005.
Record expires on 22-Dec-2006.
Record created on 22-Dec-2005.

Finally, ANI (which inspired this thread) http://www.anicoins.com/ is clearly identified as registered to James Alford of Jackson, MS whose email address happens to be "tuesdaynightcoins@yahoo.com". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to demonstrate that eBay seller tuesdaynightcoins sells a LOT of his own slabbed coins:
http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQfgtpZ1Q...aynightcoins

Like other boiler room type grading operations, ANI will grade and slab other sellers' coins, a natural progression from grading/slabbing one's own coins. ANI submissions are sent to Ridgeland, MS, a suburb of Jackson.

He hasn't exactly developed a sterling reputation:
http://www.toolhaus.org/cgi-bin/neg...=Received+by

I find it interesting and ironic how tuesdaynightcoins tries to separate himself from his own grading company, "Let me talk about ANI grading Service they are a very strict commercial grader most of their coins will cross with any others some will be a point or 2 off.They don't slab junk or overgrade. [sic]". This came from the following auction:
http://cgi.ebay.com/MS70-and-MS69-I...NS_W0QQitemZ110022972183QQihZ001QQcategoryZ39488QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem . As they say on Fox News, "We report, you decide".

Registrant:
Alford, James
PO Box 12414
Jackson, MS 39236
US

Domain Name: ANICOINS.COM

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Alford, James tuesdaynightcoins@yahoo.com
PO Box 12414
Jackson, MS 39236
US
601-607-7123

Record expires on 28-Apr-2009.
Record created on 28-Apr-2005.

Ergo and thusly, it may be seen that many if not most of the dozens (hundreds?) of the non-tiered non-rated basement grading companies (I will not label them "services") do, in fact sell their own graded and slabbed coins.

To keep it easier on those of us who take the time to research these type grading companies, it would be convenient if such new companies as they appear were reported in this TPG forum for investigation. One such company of which I was unaware or had forgotten until I was researching this topic is TCGS (Twenty First Century Coin Grading Service) in which the operator graded and slabbed his own coins from the late 1990s until 2003, then sold them in various venues. He apparently is now a convicted felon and is, or soon will be languishing in a Federal or New Jersey prison http://www.uscoinexchfraud.com/ . It happens that TCGS slabs are still on the eBay market. One would think that these new illegitimate grading companies would learn by this example.

Pillar Of The Community
United States
1703 Posts
 Posted 08/27/2006  06:07 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add TLS5933 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Exellent detective work Fred. . I have been watching two of those sellers myself for some time,howardsdirect in particular,and the over graded coins he sells.
Pillar Of The Community
Belgium
2078 Posts
 Posted 08/27/2006  07:00 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ageka to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Legally a lot of what is happening is acceptable
If in the same building you have company A on the first floor
creating quality and environmental systems for clients and you have a sister company B on the second floor certifying those systems
then legally there is no obstruction of independance

Make company A the slabber and company B the vendor and there you are
Independant
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United States
2684 Posts
 Posted 08/27/2006  1:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I made a gross error of omission following posting of this topic. I failed to give credit to Zakgold who steered me in the correct research direction with his posting in the thread regarding SGS of the URL http://www.directnic.com/whois/ which gives domain registration information (it was late at night and I wanted to get to bed, so poor Zakgold got overlooked). While I used WhoIs (or at least a site labeled "WhoIs") two or three years ago while a bunch of us were trying to track down IP addresses of spam originators, I don't know if it's the same WhoIs since this site looks nothing like the site we used.

In any instance, credit given where credit is due and it's thanks to Zakgold for providing me the key tool for identifying TPG Registrants.

Fred
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United States
590 Posts
 Posted 08/27/2006  1:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Dewayne76 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good job Fred. I will be sure to avoid Tuesdaynightcoins when on eBay. Thanks for the heads up.
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 Posted 08/27/2006  2:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by ageka

Legally a lot of what is happening is acceptable
If in the same building you have company A on the first floor
creating quality and environmental systems for clients and you have a sister company B on the second floor certifying those systems
then legally there is no obstruction of independance

Make company A the slabber and company B the vendor and there you are
Independant



Ageka, you are absolutely correct and your examples exemplify the problem we are experiencing.

On this side of the puddle, there is a lot of legal variation from state to state and at the Federal level on situations such as this. I'm not a lawyer, but have been involved in a number of legal battles (environmental issues as an "expert" witness) and some law enforcement. There are two general standards which are applied in a situation such as this: (1) appearance standards and (2) intent. While the law makes allowances for coincidence, it also considers what a situation looks like to a "reasonable person", e.g., two persons involved or interested in the same activity (be it drugs, prostitution, or coins) at the same time in the same place appear (or MAY be presumed) to be in collaboration. This, by itself is not enough to convict, but it is enough for "probable cause" for further investigation. Intent then must also be demonstrated and proved "beyond a reasonable doubt". If an exchange of money, goods, or pertinent information which is favorable to one or both parties who are together at the same time and same place, then intent and collusion are established. It becomes a crime only if the activity is illegal.

In the situation with Company A, the slabber, and Company B, the vendor, there is nothing wrong with the two companies doing business in the same building (or floor or even room) and they don't even have to maintain their independence from each other. Collaboration between the two is perfectly alright as long as it is not illegal; indeed, this is a common practice and makes a lot of logistical and business sense to have two related businesses side by side (e.g., health care lab next door to a hospital; an architect sharing the same suite as an engineer). Where the legal border is crossed is if the intent of one or both such businesses is to commit fraud or other such illegal activity; if one knowingly assists the other to enable such fraud, then both may be accused of such fraud (lot of qualifications here).

The tricky part of TPGs selling their own coins or, in the appearance that Company A is slabbing so that Company B can sell the slabs, is there is nothing explicitly illegal about doing so UNLESS their intent is to defraud. If they wanted, PCGS, NGC, and ANACS could indeed sell their own slabs without breaking any laws. However, they are very sensitive to appearance of fairness standards (neutrality), so they have their own strict policies about slabbed coin sales. Intent to defraud with low quality non-rated home-generated boiler room grading companies would be illegal but is very difficult to prove because of the subjectivity of coin grading practices with no established legal standards beyond industry standards which are, as stated, quite nebulous, variable from one company to another, and certainly not universal. It is only with extreme cases of misrepresentation with intent to defraud could any of these homebrew graders and slabbers be successfully prosecuted. Such was/is the case of TCGS (aka and d/b/a US Coin Exchange among other aliases and misrepresentations) cited above in the original post. About the only thing we, as collectors, dealers, and interested parties can do is expose these companies for what they are and educate, educate, educate the coin-purchasing community about the unreliability and disreputable practices of the low-calibre boiler room grading companies.

This dissertation is not a complete legal readout of the current slabbing-selling system, this is a gross simplification, and there are a LOT of qualifications, exceptions, and case law relating to the situation. I am certain a qualified lawyer could rephrase it to be more technically and jargonistically accurate, but it's about where we stand now from a legal aspect.

Fred

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 Posted 08/27/2006  2:53 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Dewayne76

Good job Fred. I will be sure to avoid Tuesdaynightcoins when on eBay. Thanks for the heads up.



I think while I'm thinking on the subject, I'll post tuesdaynightcoins in the eBay forum Sellers To Avoid. Thanks for the reminder, Dewayne.

Fred
Pillar Of The Community
United States
741 Posts
 Posted 08/27/2006  9:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add texasmick to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you're looking for suggestions for your next subject, I have seen PNIG and ENGS on eBay this weekend.
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 Posted 08/27/2006  11:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by texasmick

If you're looking for suggestions for your next subject, I have seen PNIG and ENGS on eBay this weekend.



Seth, could you post an example of an auction for each company? I'd like to check them out ASAP this week while I have the time. I think I've heard of ENGS before, but I don't remember the context.

Thanks!

Fred
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United States
772 Posts
 Posted 09/06/2006  11:53 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jdheyne to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Larry Briggs, reputable rare coin dealer, owner of SEGS(Not a TOP TPG), but it's better than the norm), not to be confused with SGS, also sell his own slabs.
I ran into him over the weekend. A very nice guy to deal with, very knowledgeable, but I just kind of scratched my head at him selling his own slabs.
I guess, not matter what, buy the coin, not the slab. Online, that can be a very hard thing to do.
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 Posted 09/07/2006  3:23 pm  Show Profile Check SsuperDdave's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by jdheyne

Larry Briggs, reputable rare coin dealer, owner of SEGS(Not a TOP TPG), but it's better than the norm), not to be confused with SGS, also sell his own slabs.
I ran into him over the weekend. A very nice guy to deal with, very knowledgeable, but I just kind of scratched my head at him selling his own slabs.
I guess, not matter what, buy the coin, not the slab. Online, that can be a very hard thing to do.



Larry Briggs, however, makes no attempt to hide the fact that he sells his own slabs. He's an acknowledged authority on Seated coins and a respected numismatist. It would be reasonable to expect that the average collector should know that Larry selling a SEGS coin is selling his own work, and I'd buy from him just like I'd buy a PCGS coin from David Hall - the potential damage to their reputation far exceeds any monetary profit they'd make from selling misgraded coins in their own slabs.

Although he technically belongs on this list, the aspect of "intent to defraud" isn't even in the same galaxy as SEGS. Noone I know believes that SEGS is doing anything but their very best to be a reputable TPG, regardless of any opinion of their grading.

Back on the original topic, another TPG to add to Fred's list is NNC, the website for which is registered to a prominent eBay seller of NNC slabs.
The best thing about a bicycle is that it uses no gasoline, therefore the chance of fiery death is greatly reduced.

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Our members sell on eBay!
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United States
547 Posts
 Posted 09/07/2006  6:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ChristinaM to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here's an auction for PNIG..However I could not find one for ENGS
PNIG (Professional Numismatic Investment Grading):

http://cgi.ebay.com/1880-P-Morgan-D...62_W0QQitemZ190027092018QQihZ009QQcategoryZ11979QQtcZphotoQQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

ENGS does have REAL NICE website:
http://www.elitenumismaticgradingse...m/index.html

Could not locate a website for PNIG.





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 Posted 09/07/2006  9:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well stated, Dave! Intent is a powerful tool in the legal business and since SEGS is open and honest about selling its own slabs (unlike, say SGS and CCGS), then such sales should be encouraged because the seller as grader is putting his reputation on the line.

Tell me more about what you found regarding NNC http://www.nnccoingrading.com/. I have NNC's domain information (Bob Johnson and James Little), but couldn't match an eBay username with either registrant although both Florida and Ohio seller locations are prominant among NNC sales. There were just too many other NNC sellers with FL and OH addresses, almost as if NNC were a neighborhood business.

Fred
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United States
741 Posts
 Posted 09/07/2006  11:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add texasmick to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Morgan Fred

[quote]
Seth, could you post an example of an auction for each company? I'd like to check them out ASAP this week while I have the time. I think I've heard of ENGS before, but I don't remember the context.



Sorry, I missed your response.

Here is the auction:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...09%26fvi%3D1

Maybe they only grade the rare and desirable 18840 morgan silver dollar....
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 Posted 09/08/2006  11:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Fred to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
In an advance eBay search of titles and descriptions, I found only three current and one completed auction for ENGS slabbed coins. None of the sellers were located in Indiana, the address for the domain registration http://www.elitenumismaticgradingservices.com/ . The slabs haven't exactly outraced the competition in numbers. Also, only 15K hits on the ENGS website, so he's not setting the field on fire.

There isn't yet enough data to state whether ENGS sells its own coins. This is kinda the reverse of other non-rated grading companies in which the market is flooded with their slabs making it difficult to pin down who might be the slabber who sells.

Fred
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United States
100 Posts
 Posted 11/05/2006  05:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add birdman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fred I thinks the hallmark seller from Florida must have got suspended from eBay.Maybe thats why they are out of business
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