The apathy in the numismatic community in regards to counterfeits has plagued as well as angered me for MANY years from the very top ( RCNA
) to the average collector. ebay has been very diligent in combating counterfeits with good policies and procedures where as the RCM
and the RCNA
have done absolutely nothing.
I will be on Pocket Change Radio once again on the 25 June. This thread will be discussed at length.
Here is an article I wrote years ago. Does it FIT? Mike Marshall
Counterfeits are here to stay! Are you part of the problem?
Counterfeit coins have been around as long as coins have. For a very long time I have attempted to thwart the efforts of those who attempt to profit from them. While some major victories have been won the proliferation of this bane to our hobby continue at an alarming rate. All we can do is educate ourselves as well as others and be constantly vigilante in our numismatic transactions. This is where we as numismatists have become our own worst enemy. The competition to acquire new material or snatch up a "real deal" or "cherry pick" an item from say for example Kijiji or eBay, caution and or common sense may not be used. The naive or inexperienced are most vulnerable at this time. That is not who I am aiming this instalment at. I hope that the inexperienced save this article and use the examples given and markers presented to assist them in identifying counterfeit coins coming from China. What I am really hoping is that the more experienced collectors and dealers realize that their reactions to counterfeit material may well harm the hobby as much as the fake coins themselves.
I will bet that every person reading this has told a friend of an amazing purchase or cherry pick or had a story of this told to them by a fellow collector. Now the real question! How many have told the story of being duped by a fake or have had that story told to them? I will bet that only the most intimate of friends share these stories or they are among the very few who like me believe that the sharing of scenarios gone bad educates all who are informed and may well prevent future crimes. Too many times I have had people tell me that "It is the price of doing business," or "I chalked it up to a learning experience." Almost every dealer/pawn shop owner I have ever spoken to have "education pieces" that they have been duped with. Again the two phrases above are used. But did the duped individuals notify the police? In some cases yes. It was nice to see the article in CCN about the fake bullion and the arrests made. This is the exception not the norm. The reasoning for not wanting to divulge the fact that they whether a dealer or collector have acquired counterfeit coins is complex. Lets look at the motives:
a) Embarrassment. Absorbing the loss seems more beneficial than the loss of face in other collector or dealers eyes.
b) Recompense. If I involve the police I will be unable to recoup my losses either from the seller or by flipping it claiming ignorance. (this one falls more on the opportunist and not dealer/collector base).
Ethics. This one I always shake my head at. "Well I only offered peanuts for a multiple thousand dollar coin if real." As if the circumstance that the coin was fake negates the fact that the buyer attempted to acquire a very valuable coin for a minuscule amount. I do not feel sorry for this individual as they are no better than the fraudster by attempting to take advantage of someone while they themselves were duped by greed.
Every one of these motives actually harm the hobby. The lack of dissemination of information whether locally via local clubs, the press and police or nationally on coin chat groups or again in the press (CCN) hurts each and every one of us. Education is paramount. You are doing no one any good by being silent. Another may get duped by the same seller or scenario. If a duped individual leaves the hobby we all suffer in the end. The only people benefiting from silence is the fraudsters. If a fraudster does it once. Shame on him. If he/she does it twice. It is our own fault so shame on us. Are you part of the problem?
Here is a scenario which transpired right here in Trenton (my home town) within the last two weeks. It involves every thing mentioned and will demonstrate that acceptance of fraud and silence only breeds more of the same.
I was contacted by an individual (the opportunist) to authenticate a few 25 cent coins. 1875H and 1889. From the images provided there was no doubt to me that they were made in China. I met the individual to inform them in person that they were indeed fake. It turns out there were two of each date. I was then asked to look at images of an 1858 large cent this individual purchased previously from the same original seller but had subsequently sold at a profit apparently some time in the past. It was counterfeit as well. The individual who purchased the now flipped counterfeit 1858 simply chalked the counterfeit up as a learning experience and the price of doing business. Sound familiar? If the secondary buyer of the 1858 had gone public would it have made a difference? I believe so. The opportunist would never have purchased the 25 cent coins after unknowingly buying a fake 1858. The original fraudster would not have continued selling fake coins which my investigation has learned includes 1948 dollars as well.
The scenario was allowed to play out for all the wrong reasons.
Are you part of the problem?