This is not a link to a news post, as I haven't found much information publicly available on counterfeit marketplaces or an updated list of identified counterfeits.
This post is meant to provide identification information of the most recently offered counterfeits on popular tor marketplaces, which many common members may not know exist. Sources and marketplace/vendor names are not posted.
Let it be noted that the information I provide is not likely to remain accurate in years to come, as counterfeiters are becoming more and more deceptive and capable all the time. The prevention techniques/discrepancies I discuss are assessed from purchase reviews, personal knowledge, and provided vendor information about each product.
Brief information on Dark Web, aka (tor, onion router, deep web) for those who are not aware:The dark web or Tor as its commonly referred to, is a method of accessing sites not available on the public internet which offers more anonymity and more protection from common surveillance methods used by both criminals and law enforcement officials alike. Originally developed by the US Navy to protect sensitive communications.
Often considered the "black market" of the internet, its various marketplaces and forums offer extensive amounts of illegal items, one of which are high quality counterfeit currency and precious metals.
I am fascinated by the amount of effort put into some of these replicas, and the extent to which these counterfeiter's will go to make their product convincing and easily obtainable. I will be posting some of the images and information I have in hopes that it will assist a fellow coin collector in identifying a counterfeit before it becomes a loss. Many are offered on eBay and similar sites, as well as Letgo, Craigslist and OfferUp, so please always do your best to take extreme caution and verify to the best of your ability before you complete a purchase.Gold and Silver Coins
(especially in graded cases) are extremely popular purchases, and graded cases provide fewer testing options without sacrificing value. Some convincing heavy plated coins are offered in bulk, with convincing circulated wear in low to high grades. Usual weaknesses are Scratch testing as well as weight and thickness differences, and when sold in bulk, usually contain the exact same scratches and imperfections as coins from the same batch and/or vendor.#1: Silver Morgan dollars (Triple Plated) With Circulated Wear
Vendor's picture is of various Morgan dollars
which claim to be triple plated, and offering 95 different variations of coins to prevent detection by identifying similarities in imperfections. Various dates of both moderately sought after and common coins and mintmarks allow the ability to pass off without much inspection due to lower values. Copper cored and triple plated silver with generated "bag marks" and faux wear to avoid the "too perfect look" with grades ranging from 40-55. Custom amounts of wear can be requested.
Weights are slightly under, ranging between 26.61g to 26.72g genuine Morgans being 26.73g. Thickness is also slightly larger than a genuine Morgan but is not visually detected. Claims it will pass most common testing by acid, scratch and magnetism but fails weight and core (cutting in half) testing. Another weakness (which is rarely able to be replicated) is the cartwheel effect, which is the "spinning" shine seen when a genuine Morgan dollar
is rocked back and fourth near a light source, but is sometimes unable to be performed if coin has heavy wear.
Vendor is selling 4 coins at $12, and offers bulk discounting and different amounts of simulated wear by request. Feedback from customer's claim these have been sold to coin shops without any issue. Just under 200 purchases of unknown quantities since March 14th, 2017.#2: NGC Graded 2008 Westpoint $10 Platinum Eagle PF70 Ultra Cameo
Vendor image provided above shows obverse of NGC
graded coin in decently accurate NGC
packaging with real certification number of 3041884-061
but with no variations offered.
In extremely accurate NGC
casing, but slab insert's background images are more visible and defined than the genuine one, And will pass X-ray test but fails the other tests which require removal from case. Has a claimed composition of 92% Tungsten and 8% Platinum, making it ever so slightly underweight, as the density of the tungsten is 19.25g/cm3 (cubed) compared to genuine platinum's density of 21.45g/cm3 (cubed).
Purchase reviews claim multiple have been passed off on eBay and craigslist, With vendor sales of 42 since March 15th, 2017 for $533 each.#3: 2014 Westpoint NGC Graded 1oz $50 Gold American Eagle MS70
Vendor's image was not too revealing, showing only the coin and not the certification number or the NGC
slab it is encased in.
Vendor states coin will pass most acid, scratch, xray and density testing (which isn't technically possible with content ratios). Vendor warns there are situations where it will fail intricate testing, so claims of quality are likely to be exaggerated.
Purchase reviews state absolute perfection of the Plastic Slab and coloring of the slab insert and NGC
hologram, but cannot be confirmed without actual picture of product. Claims of being passed off on eBay without issues.
Weight is likely off, as composition is 92% tungsten and 8% 24k Gold, but would be very slight due to close density of tungsten and gold.
Vendor has 33 purchases since February 15th 2017, and is offering the coin at $266 each.Gold bars
are increasingly popular items for counterfeiting, especially in packaging which prevents most common methods of testing without risking loss of value due to opening the package. Most counterfeits cannot pass scratch test or acid testing, and have a slight weight difference from original (less than 0.001g Most of the time), and are usually tungsten filled with slight differences in thickness or dimension.
Most recently posted were a few bars with quite a bit of positive feedback and purchases claiming the ease of passing off to unsuspecting victims, Below are a few pictures posted by the vendors:#1: 1oz Pamp Suisse Fortuna Bar (Veriscan) in packaging.
Above is the vendor's picture of the bar, likely tungsten filled, and supposedly able to pass "veriscan" verification testing offered by Pamp. Vendor offers unique sku and certification numbers on each bar. Notably able to pass magnetic and x-ray tests, but not scratch or acid testing.
Reviews claim that the front packaging is an easily overlooked lighter shade of blue than the genuine packaging, as well as counterfeits being visually thicker than genuines.
Two of these bars are being offered for $85 and seller has over 1500 verified sales since January 2017.#2: Perth Mint 1oz Gold Bar in Packaging
Vendor image above. Has been improved since end of 2016 to fix slight discrepancies in the unique serial numbers being provided. Weight is claimed to be exact as well as able to pass X-ray testing, however will fail scratch test. 500 of the improved bars have been sold since January 2017, and offers 10 of these 1oz bars for $255.
As of March 24th, these are the most purchased and most recent Counterfeits posted for sale. All products are from a single tor marketplace, but remains one of the most visited sites.
Keep your eyes peeled for any of these counterfeits, as some of the more recently posted items are bound to show up as purchase numbers increase.
If you notice any discrepancies from the posted pictures that I have missed, please post your findings, as I may not have had personal experience with handling the genuine item in question for accurate comparison.
I hope this will prevent some of the community from getting ripped off, or help to avoid and identify counterfeits in the future.
If I find anything of interest in the future, I will keep the community posted.
Play It Safe everyone! Lets Help Prevent Counterfeits From Poisoning The Marketplaces With Accurate Detection and Proper Testing!