The Chinese scammers are back after a brief hiatus. They are flooding social media with advertising for fake coins. I found three ads from these scammers offering American Silver Eagles for $9.95 on Facebook in the last two days.
As I type this, silver is $23.73 per troy ounce. It means that that the American Silver Eagle contains $23.73 worth of silver. Even with a modest numismatic premium of 5-percent (below the current market value), a silver bullion coin should cost around $25.00. A quick market survey shows that legitimate dealers are selling ungraded American Silver Eagles for $33-36 each. Coins with the Type 2 reverse are selling for $1-3 more.
Proof American Silver Eagles are more expensive because they cost more to purchase. If the U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins for $73.00 and dealers on the authorized purchase program receive a 5-percent discount, the wholesale price is $69.35 per coin.
Who would sell a proof coin less than the wholesale cost? If it is a genuine coin, then it is likely stolen merchandise. Otherwise, scammers are selling fakes.
Before you purchase these alleged “good deals,” please remember my five rules:
- NO LEGITIMATE DEALER IS SELLING BULLION COINS FOR BELOW THE SPOT PRICE!
- IF THE DEAL IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT LIKELY IS NOT A GOOD DEAL!
- IF THE DEALER DOES NOT IDENTIFY THEMSELVES ON THEIR WEBSITE, THEY ARE LIKELY HIDING SOMETHING.
Check the “About” or “Contact” page. If there is no contact information, then they are hiding. If the address is in China or the Middle East, they will sell you counterfeit merchandise.
- IF THE SITE IS “POWERED BY SHOPLAZZA,” IT IS LIKELY A SCAMMER SITE.
According to contacts in the information security industry, the service is run by Chinese companies known to sell counterfeit merchandise.
- IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, THEN DON’T PURCHASE THE COINS!
Last year, I purchased two coins knowing they are counterfeit for educational purposes only. I used gift cards to purchase the coins to prevent exposing my credit card information. Both coins are made of nickel-plated steel and contain no silver.
Back? BACK?!?!? They never left!!! They’re a 24/7/365 menace, and their trajectory is still going parabolic. No end of the beginning is in sight.
Back as in the advertising is back. They slowed down the social media ads and now the scammers are on an advertising blitz.
I’m writing regarding your characterization of SHOPLAZZA (I’m using all caps because this is how we are branding ourselves now) as “a service run by Chinese companies known to sell counterfeit merchandise”, in the SCAM ALERT article you published on August 20th.
It’s clear that you’ve encountered websites with questionable products and they happen to have been hosted by our platform.
We actively investigate and remove questionable products/storefronts from our platform through our risk control team; they can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We would greatly appreciate it if you could help us identify the stores engaged in selling questionable products, so that we could deal with them accordingly and minimize the harm to online shoppers, as well as our reputation as an e-commerce platform startup.
But in all honesty, your characterization of SHOPLAZZA as a shady operation hurt out feelings.
SHOPLAZZA is a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) shopping cart website builder or, to put it simply, a drag-and-drop web-store builder. We have over 360,000 storefronts registered and mainly provide shopping cart, payment, marketing, ad delivery and ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions to DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands engaged in cross-border e-commerce.
We host a variety of merchants that range from well-known international brands to small-and-medium sized businesses and individual drop-shippers.
During our beta testing stage, SHOPLAZZA offered free trials and a large number of users took advantage of the offer. Even now, we maintain competitive pricing and that’s probably why unscrupulous merchants may be abusing our platform with activities that violate our policies.
At SHOPLAZZA, we work hard to provide innovative and open-source solutions for quality merchants of all sizes. Having questionable sellers and products on our platform is the last thing we’d want, please give us a chance to do better – we look forward to hearing from you!
A second version of this reply was deleted because it was redundant. I am publishing their original version.
Ethan sent their response via email before posting it on the blog. The following was my reply:
According to U.S. cyber security experts, most of the vendors on Shoplazza are selling counterfeit merchandise whether they are coins, major label clothes, and other merchandise. Images used on the site can be traced to legitimate sites and the products shipped are counterfeit or cheap copies.
EVERY company I have investigated on behalf of scammed purchasers of coins can be traced to Shoplazza.
Shoplazza may want to portray themselves as a legitimate operation but as long as the company is allowing sellers to sell illegal items, then my characterization stands regardless of your feelings.
BTW: I know that under Chinese law, it is not legal to reproduce a current coin, either foreign and domestic. Therefore, Shoplazza is allowing the sale of illegal merchandise making the company accessories to criminal activities.
How about you stop hosting all companies from China?
I don’t understand the comment. I don’t host companies from China. I just report on what I find.
Yes, which? Where? How? I am perhaps one of the hobby’s most strident anti-China advocates across the board. I even think we need to boycott the Olympic Winter Games this coming winter. I am DONE WITH CHINA, as completely as I can manage it.