If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.Facebook users might have seen an advertisement trying to sell American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $9.99. DO NOT BUY FROM THAT ADVERTISEMENT. IT IS A SCAM!
The company is named LIACOO. Please note the two “ohs” because there is a legitimate company spelled with a single “oh.” LIACOO appears to be selling knock-off products made in China and representing them as genuine for less than market value.
A reader purchased five of these coins. After they arrived, this person said that something looked wrong and asked for help. The images that were sent makes the coins appear to be cast copies of American Silver Eagle coins. COUNTERFEITS!
First, you will NEVER find a legitimate seller sell American Silver Eagle for less than the wholesale price. You may be able to find someone who will round down your cost to the nearest dollar as a loss leader, but the price will never be more than 1-2% less than the spot price. The current spot price of silver is $17.84. If you find someone selling legitimate American Silver Eagle for $17.00-17.50, they will probably sell the coins to convince you to do further business with them. Otherwise, you may want to check the company further.
In this case, an examination of their website has no information about who they are.
- There was no physical address.
- There was no telephone number listed.
- The site did not have any policies for shipping, returns, or customer service.
- The pictures of legitimate monster boxes and roll containers were “borrowed” from another site.
There are two places where they provide contact information. On their FAQ page is an email address that uses a different domain. Contact information for the company’s domain name appears on one page that listed an email address, and that customer service was available between 9a and 5p HKT. HKT is the time zone abbreviation for Hong Kong Time.
If that was not enough to convince you that this deal is too good to be true, further research went into their Internet presence.
Their domain name registration shows that the name was purchased from a company in Guangdong, China, that appears to service small businesses. This service provider is reselling the services offered by Baidu. Baidu is a Chinese state-controlled search engine, sometimes called the Google of China. The Chinese government heavily regulates Baidu.
The website is hosted on servers owned by Alibaba. Alibaba is a China-based e-commerce conglomerate whose ties with the Chinese government is uncertain. Although founder Jack Ma has claimed to have no government ties, it is essential to remember that the Chinese government regulates everything and censor Internet traffic inside its borders.
Everything regarding their Internet presence confirms that they are a China-based company. Remember, many of the worst counterfeit coins have origins in China.
I provided the details of the clues I was looking for to help you understand how to spot a scammer. I went further by looking into their Internet presence since I have the background to understand the under-the-hood workings of the Internet. However, my examination of the website was enough to convince me not to buy the coins.
If anything about the offer makes you uneasy, then do not buy the coins. If you want me to look at the site, leave a message in the comment section below, or send me a note. “Let’s be careful out there.”
Watching the news has been an experience. As a news junkie, I have found myself turning away from all news outlets to maintain a little sanity.
In television news terms, the “A Block” is the news at the beginning of the broadcast until the first commercial. It is where the most important stories are broadcast. Typically, a major derailment of a freight train in Northern Virginia would be an A Block story. On Friday, the 30-second mention was the lead-in to the weather report at 18 minutes after the hour.
The news of the week affects everything, including numismatics. Although the events in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Brunswick, Georgia, have their analogies to problems in the numismatic community, that will be left to another commentary. This week, I want to concentrate on the coronavirus:
- The pandemic is real and will be around for a while. It is not a government conspiracy. It is not overblown. And stop comparing the numbers of deaths to the flu. The flu kills 56,000 people annually, a 12-month statistic. COVID-19 has killed 104,217 (as of this writing) since FEBRUARY!
- COVID-19 does not care who you are, your political affiliation, or what you worship. You can be infected. Once infected, you can spread the virus even if you show no symptoms of the disease. History shows us this is possible. Look up the biography of Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary.”
- The more scientists research the disease, the more they realize a lot is unknown. Last week, a preliminary report from a peer-reviewed medical journal revealed that people infected with COVID-19 are showing damage in their lungs. The study included people who did not show symptoms of the disease.
- Wearing a mask is not infringing on your rights and not a sign of tyranny. It is to protect everyone in the name of public health in the same manner that you are required to wear shirts and shoes when going to a restaurant. Your decision to not wear a mask infringes on my rights not to get infected since the masks are to prevent you from spreading potentially infected droplets from your lungs. If you want to make a statement, get a personalized mask with your message. Wear a t-shirt with your message. But wear the damned mask!
- And stay six-feet away from me. I would rather be six-feet away from you than six-feet underground!
Although Florida is open and the governor is lifting many restrictions, the Florida United Numismatists canceled the Summer FUN show.
Even though the ANA announced that they continue to plan to hold the World’s Fair of Money in August, sources report that Pittsburgh may not be fully open by then. Even if Pittsburgh is allowed to be in the “Green Phase,” according to the Pennsylvania governor’s plan, “Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited.”
Also, “All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning” includes dealers at their tables. Some dealers need a lesson in cleanliness and upgrading their people skills making this a barrier to holding the World’s Fair of Money.
Even if the ANA tries to hold the World’s Fair of Money, how many will attend? Are you going to travel in a closed metal tube to a show required to limit attendance? How many ANA members over 60 will attend? How many ANA members are over 60? I am 60 and 4½ hours away by car with friends in Pittsburgh that I would love to visit. I am considering not going under today’s circumstances.
Let’s do the right thing and cancel the World’s Fair of Money before going further embarrasses the organization.
KEEP YOUR SOCIALLY SAFE DISTANCE!
BE SAFE AND HEALTHY!
And now the news…
When talking about markets, the central theme is that investors hate instability. Whether the conversation is with the professional market maker or the individual investor, there is much uncertainty in the current marketplace.
When equity markets become unstable, investors run to cash or cash equivalents. Cash equivalents include investments like bonds, especially those issued by stable governments. The other investment they run to is precious metals.
Gold is the primary safe-haven for investors. As a society, we have given this mineral an intrinsic value and trade it for a premium. With the panic of the U.S. Mint closing the West Point Mint for a short time, investors started buying platinum. The most popular form to purchase these metals is in coins where we saw the South African Platinum Elephant coins sell out its 2,000 coin production.
With the markets scrambling, it has opened up the door to scammers trying to cash in on the panic buying. Scammers use tactics like selling overpriced and overhyped coins, counterfeits, and not delivering coins after purchasing.
Please do not fall for these scams. If you have any questions, contact a reputable dealer from the APMD, Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), or the American Numismatic Association dealer directories. You will be glad you did!
And now the news…
Admittedly, I had not downloaded the June issue as I am still reading stories from May. After downloading the issue, I turned to page 9 to read the message. To my surprise, I found this passage:
OPEN MESSAGE TO ROB OBERTH: Been there. Done that. Got the award to prove it.
I was once an armchair quarterback. Then I was invited to be part of the solution. After six years, I learned more about the ANA’s intricacies than someone with one-year on the Board of Governors could fathom. I know the history, which is very important because it looks like we are going backward. Remember, George Santayana once opined that if you do not learn from history, then you are destined to repeat it.
It is no secret that I am not a fan of Steve Ellsworth. Aside from his previous actions with me, other things bother me about Steve.
- If you go back to Steve’s first run for the Board of Governors about eight years ago, his candidate statements mention his interest in certain aspects of history and the “War of Northern Aggression.” Sorry folks. I have a difficult time embracing this type of attitude about the side the LOST a war only to glorify in later years. And the last I looked, it was the Confederacy that started the shooting at Fort Sumter. Time to get over it and move on.
- In Steve’s current tome, he says, “Not since our Civil War 160 years ago have we dealt with such adversity.” A statement like this is from someone who is stuck in a historical time warp. All we have to do is look at the effects on numismatics to debunk that view of history. The desire to create the Peace Dollar, the ending of gold coinage in 1933, the necessity to produce steel cents, and remove copper from nickels are just a few examples of adapting to more difficult times.
I am not trying to minimize the worldwide effect of this pandemic. My business is closed as being “nonessential,” according to the government. My livelihood is on the line. As someone very close to being of Medicare age, this is not the time to start over. However, the U.S. Mint continues to strike coins. It was considered a market catastrophe when the West Point Mint closed for a short period.
Compassion and understanding is one thing. Leadership and being levelheaded is another. Skipping over World War I, Great Depression, World War II, and 9/11 dismisses other lessons from history. Remember the warning from George Santayana.
Although Steve has not said it in so many words, his actions prove that I will not be on his Christmas card list.
But that is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that after six years of helping with the ANA’s technology, bringing it up from the virtual stone age, and working to prevent the ANA from making a multi-million dollar mistake, Steve will not ask me to help on behalf of the ANA.
I came out against him in the election. Big deal! This type of thing happens all of the time, and Steve should know better. He once lived in the shadows of Washington, DC. Opponents work with each other after the elections are over.
I did not respond in his timeframe for input to his strategic plan. Well, Steve forgot that exercise, too. I have not seen anything about this “strategic plan,” nor has anyone else I asked.
If Steve is such a student of history with a fixation on the Civil War, he would recognize how President Abraham Lincoln included those who were opposed to his presidency in his cabinet. It was a move that was uncommon in the 19th century as it is today. I recommend reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin if you want to learn more about a real profile in courage. I can lend my copy!
As a numismatic historical reference, Lincoln appointed primary rival Salmon P. Chase as the Secretary of the Treasury. Chase was considered more radical than Lincoln. The former Whigs did not trust the one-time Democrat after he joined the new Republican Party. As Treasury Secretary, Chase created the paper currency system, which led to his portrait appearing on the first $1 Demand Notes. Later, his portrait would appear on the $10,000 gold certificate.
I do not know Ron Oberth. However, I am sure the reason he has not contacted his immediate predecessor is that Steve said something. I know Steve will respond along the lines of, “I did not tell Ron not to talk to you.” I know, Steve. But you are the type that I would have to check for the knife if you pat me on the back. I am willing to bet that Steve said something like, “I don’t think he would have anything to offer.”
I do not expect to be contacted by the Ellsworth, Oberth, or anyone with the Board of Governors. Too bad, because I would have agreed to work with the ANA regardless of these opinions. I would do it for the benefit of the Association.
I expect to hear from Steve’s fans!
His fans are a fiery bunch. Anytime I criticize Steve, my inbox gets scorched with the same type of vitriol that makes the evening news after a presidential rally. However, the difference is that I can work for the benefit of the whole while I can disagree with someone.
Yes, Steve, I am going to be an armchair quarterback because you took me out of the game and cut me from the team. I know what the ANA needs and why it has not made progress. I will use that knowledge to make sure that membership dues benefit the members.
Sun Tzu did not write, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” That was from The Godfather Part II. But it was Machiavelli who wrote, “It is easier for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and encouraged him to seize it.”
Gotta love Santayana’s wisdom!
Earlier today, the American Numismatic Association published a press release announcing that planning is continuing for the World’s Fair of Money this August in Pittsburgh.
Whatever happens, will depend on the state of the pandemic and the restrictions set by Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. It will also depend on how the David L. Lawrence Convention Center can help stage the show to keep all participants safe.
I have confidence that the ANA staff will do the best job they can so that the show can go on.
The leadership is challenging my confidence in the ANA.
It has been more than two months since the ANA Headquarters had to close because of the pandemic, but we have not heard from the ANA president.
On April 8, 2020, the ANA canceled Summer Seminar, but we have not heard from the ANA president.
On April 10, 2020, I explained that the ANA did not have online education because the ANA president killed the process.
On April 16, 2020, I provided several ideas as to how the ANA could provide stop-gap processes to expand online education in the short term.
But we have not heard from the ANA president.
As the country begins to reopen, the ANA has missed a golden opportunity to put itself online to attract an audience. Using a professional staff who could probably use a break from the mundane, the ANA could have created great content to attract people surfing the web looking for something different.
The ANA has many brilliant members with knowledge they can share with the public under the ANA’s banner. Others can generate content for the more serious collectors.
Since the ANA staff is already on the payroll, the costs would be whatever cost production and communications. All it would take is a commitment from the ANA to do this.
Where was the ANA’s commitment?
Where was the Board of Governors to push this?
Where was ANA President Steve Ellsworth?
Annie Glenn was an advocate for those with speech disorders and child abuse. She grew up with a severe stutter that she hid from the public. After undergoing an intensive program at Hollins College, she learned to control her stutter. It gave her the confidence to be an advocate for those who could not speak.
After many years of advocacy, The Annie Glenn Award was created to honor individuals who overcome communications disorders.
Although there have been many deaths during this pandemic, a few have touched the numismatic community. Aside from being the spouse of a famous American, I own a numismatic collectible with her autograph. The $1 silver certificate may not be worth much as a numismatic collectible, but with the passing of John and Annie Glenn, it becomes more precious.
Rest in Peace, Annie Glenn.