Weekly World Numismatic News for March 20, 2022

Bleached Counterfeit Currency

An example of a $100 Federal Reserve Note printed on a bleached $5 note (Image courtesy of Prescott Police Department via AOL.com)

Bleaching low currency denominations and printing higher denominations is not a new phenomenon. This past week a New Jersey man was convicted again for doing it again.

Hollis Forteau, 38, of New Jersey, was convicted on two counts of counterfeiting in 2015 for bleaching low denomination notes, printing $100 on the blank paper, and passing them as real currency. Since most people continue to use iodine pens to detect counterfeit currency, the counterfeit notes will pass the test.

Professional counterfeiters know it is easy to pass bleached currency. Rather than understanding the embedded security features of real currency, stores continue to rely on technology that the criminals know how to defeat.

Although the counterfeiter is convicted, the damage will affect the businesses he scammed and their customers. The businesses do not get compensated for the lost revenue for each counterfeit note, and those businesses will have to recover the lost revenue by raising prices. Nowadays, with inflation increasing, the business can bury the rise in inflation concerns.

The consumers end up paying for these cases.

Businesses should be encouraged to train their employees to recognize the anticounterfeiting embedded into United States currency by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

And now the news…

 March 14, 2022
The Central Bank of Argentina has ceased minting new coins, according to media reports. Rising metals prices have made the coins too costly to produce.  → Read more at centralbanking.com

 March 15, 2022
A New Jersey man was sentenced to five years in prison after creating counterfeit money with bleach, $1 bills and a printer, officials said. Fake $100’s were made.  → Read more at miamiherald.com

 March 16, 2022
The rare gold coin has been on display at the British Museum on long-term loan from a private collector.  → Read more at foxbusiness.com

 March 18, 2022
The Ukraine crisis has shaken up prices—and sent some Americans scrambling for coins.  → Read more at theatlantic.com

 March 19, 2022
Do you know that Sheikh Noor ud Din and Sheikh Humza Makhdoom have also been mentioned in the numismatic records of this land?  → Read more at greaterkashmir.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for February 20, 2022

Fake Silver Eagles

Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from a company who advertised on Facebook.

There is at least one noteworthy numismatic article in the non-numismatic media most weeks. The news published this week was mundane and not worth noting.

The news worth reporting is that online scammers are changing how they structure their scams.

After examining the websites reported by several people, they are now:

  • The “companies” behind the scams are registered in London, and I am not sure why they chose London.
  • Five of the six companies investigated have registrations that point to the owners coming from India. The U.K. and India have had close relations following their independence from the British Empire.
  • The websites are hosted in the U.K. using a service that supports online marketplaces.
  • After examining a set of coins purchased by a reader, they resemble the counterfeit coins I purchased in 2020.

Many people have talked about doing something to combat counterfeits coming from overseas. Some groups tried to write letters without a response from the recipients. At what point does the numismatic industry stop writing letters and do something?

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome, numismatics may be ready to be fitted for a straight jacket.

Since nobody in the numismatic industry is coming up with a plan, I will develop one. It will be comprehensive and involve the entire industry. Give me a few months to research the possibilities.

And now the news…

No mainstream news this week.
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Don’t Buy Fake Morgans for the Holidays

Advertisement for fake Morgan Dollars from Facebook

Since August, reports of fake Morgan Dollars have appeared, but the scammers are coming out of the woodwork with the holidays upon us.

Within the hour, I found ads for three different scammers trying to sell 2021 (CC) Morgan Dollars with images in a PCGS slab for $19.95.

First, you cannot trust any of the pictures. All of the pictures were copied from around the Internet, including the PCGS sample slab. These pictures appear in many places when performing an image search. Some of the images are edited versions from the U.S. Mint’s website.

When I entered the serial number on the image of the slab on the PCGS website verification form, they reported it as an invalid number.

No legitimate merchant will sell a newly released coin below the introduction and spot prices. The U.S. Mint sold the coin for $85 each, and the spot price closed at $22.13 today. Anyone selling a highly desirable coin for $19.95 is trying to scam you.

Within an hour, Facebook sent a report saying that they reviewed my reports from the ads. Facebook removed all of the ads. But I know this is a case of whack-a-mole, and more ads will appear soon. I encourage anyone using Facebook to report these ads when they appear on your timeline. If we work together, we can limit the impact of these scammers on the hobby.

Weekly World Numismatic News for September 12, 2021

CC Privy Mark for the 2021 Morgan Dollar

Coin World reports that scammers are selling counterfeit 2021-CC Morgan Dollars on eBay.

According to Coin World, the coins have several issues, but the primary problem is that the U.S. Mint has not shipped any coins. How can you buy a coin that the manufacturer has not shipped?

Another scam you can find on eBay is that some sellers are offering MS-70 coins for “pre-sale.” How can a seller sell a coin graded MS-70 that has not been released or graded by the grading service? How will these sellers guarantee that the coins they receive from the U.S. Mint will grade MS-70 unless they pay off the grading service?

I know many collectors want to add these coins to their collection. You may want to wait until the coins are issued, the grading services see the coins in hand, and the suckers get out of the market. If you want to see what I mean, look at the 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set. After they were released, the prices climbed to $500-700 with limited availability. Although the price numbers have not changed, the value of $500 is less than in 2011 and is generally available.

And now the news…

 September 10, 2021
Renovators discovered a hidden box and pouch stuffed with rare gold coins, minted during the reigns of French Kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV  → Read more at smithsonianmag.com

 September 12, 2021
Telangana’s Rachakonda police seized fake Indian currency notes with a face value of over Rs 1 crore and genuine currency worth Rs 1.3 lakh after busting a gang involved in cheating people on the pretext of exchanging black money.  → Read more at indianexpress.com
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SCAM ALERT: CHINESE COUNTERFEITERS ARE BACK

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.

NOBODY IS SELLING LEGITIMATE AMERICAN SILVER EAGLE COINS FOR LESS THAN THEIR SILVER VALUE!

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:

  1. NO LEGITIMATE DEALER IS SELLING BULLION COINS FOR BELOW THE SPOT PRICE!
  2. IF THE DEAL IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT LIKELY IS NOT A GOOD DEAL!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, THEN DON’T PURCHASE THE COINS!
Please! Please! Please! Do not give these scammers your credit card information. You will be ripped off, and they will likely steal your credit card information, leading to other problems.

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.

Weekly World Numismatic News for July 11, 2021

Bleached Counterfeit Currency

From 2019: An example of a $100 Federal Reserve Note printed on a bleached $5 note (Image courtesy of Prescott Police Department via AOL.com)

Headlines drive readers to the news. Whether they famously reported the wrong story (“Dewey Defeats Truman” by the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1948) or to put extra emphasis on a story (“Ford to City: Drop Dead” by the New York Daily News in 1975), nothing screams READ ME like a good headline.

Stories that do not appear on the front page of the printed edition or the top of a website rarely receive the attention of the headline writers. Unless there is a murder or other major crime, most local crime stories do not earn over-the-top headlines. This week’s news has three examples of mundane headlines that display a concerning pattern about counterfeit coins and currency.

Counterfeit money has been a problem since its invention. Governments try to stop criminals from counterfeiting, but their efforts almost seem inevitable. The new trend appears to be the small-time criminals caught trying to make money from selling fake money to survive.

Recent stories about the arrest of counterfeiters report that the people are not career criminals trying to get rich. Those who are getting arrested are using the counterfeits for survival. The world economy has deteriorated to the point that buying and selling counterfeit money was worth the risk to buy a scooter to use as primary transportation.

The people caught passing counterfeit money admit it is not a mistake. In the statements to the police, they admit to using counterfeits to fill to earn a survivable living. Authorities continue to look for the distributors of the counterfeits.

And now the news…

 July 4, 2021
An extremely rare 22-carat gold coin from the reign of Henry VIII, considered the origin of the pound, is set to go under the hammer this month for £50,000.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 July 7, 2021
In a major crackdown against the illegal counterfeit currency trade going on in the city, the district police arrested six persons and seized Rs1.47 lakh fake notes in denominations of Rs2,000 and Rs500.  → Read more at tribuneindia.com

 July 7, 2021
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Have you ever gone to the zoo or a museum and received a stretched coin as a souvenir? Well, the “The King of Elongated Coins” from the 1904 World’s Fair is up for auction and the lot including two other coins could be worth up to $4,000.  → Read more at fox2now.com

 July 8, 2021
A team of French, Australian, and Israeli scientists has collected evidence proving there was an active and thriving silver trade network in the eastern Mediterranean region in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age (approximately 1200 BC to 400 BC).  → Read more at ancient-origins.net

 July 8, 2021
The Niger State Police Command has arrested a Catholic Church Catechist and two others for engaging in the sale of counterfeit currency of about N15,800,000. The trio of Emmanuel Akazuwa, 42, Catechist Sabastine Dabu, 48 and Umar Mohammed, 50, were arrested in a hotel in the Kontagora area of the state while trying to get a buyer for the N15.8million in their possession.  → Read more at saharareporters.com

 July 9, 2021
Officers seized approximately $1,700 in counterfeit currency during an arrest on Thursday, July 8, 2021.  → Read more at sootoday.com

 July 9, 2021
Byzantine coins were discovered last month at the port of Caesarea, a town in Northern Israel between Tel Aviv and Haifa.  → Read more at greekreporter.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for October 25, 2020

Fake Silver Eagles

Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from LIACOO, a company based in China.

Although the number of reports about people buying counterfeit American Silver Eagle coins has diminished, they have not stopped. This week, I received four more inquiries about these coins.

I have tried my best to get the word out to as many people as possible, including the media. I spent a few hours scouring the Internet for the consumer reporters’ addresses in as many major markets as possible, even sending messages to competing stations. Nobody has responded.

Even though high traffic and Google statistics tracking has pushed the blog closer to the top of the search when people inquire about counterfeit American Silver Eagles, the fact remains that it is difficult or a one-man crusade to cut through the daily noise.

It would have been nice if I had help. I did post warnings on the ANA’s Facebook group. Even though there are Board members involved with the Facebook group, nobody has picked up the ball and tried to put the force of the ANA behind an educational campaign.

The email sent about these fake coins add up to over 150 counterfeit coins. Although it is a small fraction of the total American Silver Eagle population, counterfeits in the market can potentially turn potential collectors into someone who does not trust the market.

I will continue my part of the fight.

Other than the posts I made about these coins, I compiled a list of the websites identified by readers as selling counterfeit American Silver Eagle coins. Once I created the list, I checked the sites to see if they are still selling fakes.

Readers can find the list of dealers selling fake coins at coinsblog.ws/fakes. I will maintain that list with the information as I receive it. Maybe if we work together, we can educate the public and eliminate the demand these scammers use to dupe people.

And now the news…

 October 19, 2020
Special Indonesian exhibit unveiled at quiet vernissage Batik was the dress code of the day at Alliance Coin & Banknote, as a special exhibit on the currency of Indonesia was unveiled on October 5th in downtown Almonte.  → Read more at millstonenews.com

 October 22, 2020
The Harold II silver penny found by Reece Pickering Two nearly 1,000-year-old coins dug up this year by two unrelated teenagers may be worth thousands of pounds each.  → Read more at expressandstar.com

 October 22, 2020
JERSEY’S government could find out how much it will cost to buy 70,000 late Iron Age and Roman coins found in a field in Grouville before the end of the year, the Chief Minister has revealed.  → Read more at jerseyeveningpost.com

 October 23, 2020
Mother Lode Gold, a wooden currency circulates at the CalaverasGrown farmers markets in Calaveras County. The currency is crafted by local farmer and woodworker Sean Kriletich.  → Read more at calaverasenterprise.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for October 4, 2020

New 2021 Britannia

The Royal Mint adds new security features for the 2021 Britannia

Even with the numismatic-related news picking up this week, the number of people that have written about buying counterfeit Silver Eagle coins has increased.

As much as I have written, tried to manipulate the search engine optimization (SEO) to get the word out, and dropped messages on social media, people continue to purchase counterfeit coins from China.

You cannot even trust the slabs sent by Chinese companies. A dealer who saw my post about purchasing coins that I suspected were counterfeit saw the picture of the slabs that were shipped. On closer examination, the slabs are the same as they use to counterfeit NGC slabs.

Last week PCGS announced they are adding a tag to their slabs that can help identify them electronically. The technology is called Near Field Communications (NFC). The technology creates contactless communications between a passive and an active device. In this case, the tag in the slab or currency holder is passive. There is no power in the passive tag but will respond to a special signal to transmit its data.

The active device sends the signal that causes the passive tag to respond. In this case, your smartphone can send the signal to and process what the passive tag sends. It is called Near Field Communications because the passive tag does not generate a strong signal, and the active device has to be close enough to hear what the tag has to say.

Using NFC is an interesting idea and, if implemented correctly, can add to the security of a slab. In the future, I will contact PCGS to discuss the security of the system they developed. Maybe I will dust off my old hacker’s hat and reverse engineer one of these tags. Very few electronic devices are unhackable. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible.

In the future, the technology that will help collectors protect themselves must be made publicly available. The current state of image processing and artificial intelligence can be used to examine a coin’s surface. Aside from its ability to grade the coin, it could tell the difference between a legitimate coin and a counterfeit that uses an aluminum alloy.

In addition to adding technology, the U.S. Mint should follow the leads of the Royal Canadian Mint and the Royal Mint to add security features to bullion coins. After all, David Ryder spoke about security during his confirmation hearing. Where is the progress on that?

And now the news…

 September 28, 2020
The European Commission is considering proposing a law to start phasing out the small 1 and 2 Eurocent coins, and round prices off to the nearest 5 cents. On Monday, the Commission opened a 15-week public consultation on the use of the small coins, during which both regular citizens and interested institutions are invited to share their opinions and suggestions on the issue.  → Read more at brusselstimes.com

 September 28, 2020
Doha: Since ancient times, coinage has played a significant role not only in the socio-economic aspect of civilisations as an instrument of business and trade but also in reflecting pivotal moments in a nation’s history.  → Read more at thepeninsulaqatar.com

 September 29, 2020
The Royal Mint has unveiled new gold bullion coins which can be authenticated as genuine by moving them in the light.  → Read more at belfasttelegraph.co.uk

 October 1, 2020
A Norwich jeweller has got people across the nation scratching their heads over his riddles which reveal where 49 special coins are hidden.  → Read more at edp24.co.uk

 October 2, 2020
Over time, people and markets the world over have been able to establish that investing in precious metals is a great way to diversify your investment portfolio. Whether you’re talking about gold, silver, or platinum, there are a handful of ways to get started in owning precious metals.  → Read more at thecostaricanews.com
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Those Cheap Silver Eagles Are A Chinese SCAM!

Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins

Want more information about American Eagle Coins? The Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins has more information and is fully illustrated. Read more → here;

Fake Silver Eagles

Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from LIACOO, a company based in China.

My posts with the titles “SCAM ALERT” has been the most popular posts in the last few months. They warn about these Chinese scammers. After buying two of these coins and examining several websites sent to me by readers, my analysis has lead me to the following:

  • The scammers are in Shenzen, China
  • It may be more than one person behind the scam, but they are working together.
  • There appears to be a pocket of these scammers in the Middle East. Early analysis suggests they are in Doha, Qatar.
  • All email addresses are either on Gmail or use Google’s professional services that allow Gmail to look like a real domain.
  • Any of these sites that have a U.S.-based telephone number are using burner phones. For those not familiar with the term, a burner phone is one on a pay-as-you-go plan. The phones are cheap, easily disposed of, and are difficult to trace.
  • Any of these sites that use a U.S.-based physical address use a dropbox service from a logistics company. The dropbox service is a locker that the company pays as a way to manage shipping remotely. There are legitimate uses for these dropbox services, but these scammers use them to make it look like they are located in the United States.
  • The scammers are using branded gift cards to pay for these services.

While investigating these sites, I learned that there are five tips that, if followed, you will avoid being scammed.

  1. NO LEGITIMATE DEALER IS SELLING BULLION COINS FOR BELOW THE SPOT PRICE!
    The current price of silver is $23.43 per troy ounce. If anyone is selling American Silver Eagles for less, they are likely trying to sell counterfeit coins.
  2. IF THE DEAL IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT LIKELY IS NOT A GOOD DEAL!
    When purchasing bullion and coins from dealers, the price between the spot price and the price the dealer will sell the coins for is called the spread. The spread can change based on inventory, availability, and other market forces. It is rare when the spread is less than 5-percent. Some of the largest dealers will lower their spread for their better customers or as a special to lure other customers. A good deal is when the spread is less than 5-percent. However, the spread is rarely less than 2-percent. If a legitimate dealer sells metals for less than 2-percent over the spot price, that is a good deal. These companies are not in business to lose money. Be very worried if someone is trying to sell bullion coins for less.
  3. IF THE DEALER DOES NOT IDENTIFY THEMSELVES ON THEIR WEBSITE, THEY ARE LIKELY HIDING SOMETHING.
    On every website that is likely selling counterfeit coins, they have a wonderfully written “About Us” page that says nothing. The Of the four websites that readers have sent to ask if they were legitimate, all of the “About Us” pages were copies. A web search using sample passages from the page yielded thousands of results.
  4. IF THE CONTACT PAGE DOES NOT HAVE LEGITIMATE CONTACT INFORMATION, THEY ARE LIKELY HIDING SOMETHING.
    One of the indicators of a site owned by Chinese scammers is if they give you hours in HKT or Hong Kong Time. These scammers are not in Hong Kong but are in Shenzen, which is in the same time zone.
  5. IF THE SITE IS “POWERED BY SHOPLAZZA,” IT IS LIKELY A SCAMMER SITE.
    Go to the bottom of any page. If there is a copyright statement followed by “Powered by Shoplazza,” then run away. Shoplazza is a newly created service out of China that seems to be a Shopify clone made by reading Shopify’s HTML. While looking at the HTML code, there are indications that the site was created quickly. During a quick look at three sites highly suspected of selling counterfeit American Silver Eagle coins, I was able to confirm that their sites are hosted on Shoplazza.
IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT A WEBSITE THEN DON’T PURCHASE FROM THEM!

Since my first post about these Chinese scammers, I have received at least five notes per week saying they bought ten coins from these websites. Everyone that received the coins and was able to weigh them found they weigh only 25 grams. A real American Silver Eagle coin should weigh 31.103 grams.

Yes, I bought two coins from one of the sites, but I did so for educational purposes. I suspected that these would be counterfeit, and I wanted the coins to learn more about them. I believe they are silver plated. As for what is under the silver plate, I have to wait until I can visit a dealer with one of those devices that can analyze coins.

Please do not buy from them.

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SCAM ALERT: Beware of Cheap Silver Eagles

Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins

Want more information about American Eagle Coins? The Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins has more information and is fully illustrated. Read more → here;
UPDATE: I BOUGHT TWO COINS FROM THIS COMPANY. THEY ARE FAKE, AS SUSPECTED. Read more → here!

If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Device that could metallic analysis of a coin below the surface

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 a privacy policy required to do business with most of the world.
  • 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.”

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