Friday 17th November 2017

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Bullion buyers beware: Fake bars and coins hit the market

by Greg Klein | November 1, 2017

Pssst… Wanna buy an ounce of gold for a buck? One Vancouver Craigslist vendor’s offering such a deal, to be transacted in a “safe spot for the both of our safety” [sic]. The merchandise consists of a bar supposedly produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. The seller claims to have other gold bars and maple leaf coins available.

Bullion buyers beware: Fake bars and coins hit the market

Although the Royal Canadian Mint safeguards
its products, at least one fake has surfaced.

While it’s not clear what the $1 ploy intends to accomplish (and the offer changed as this story was being written), the sales pitch comes after CBC revealed that an Ottawa branch of the Royal Bank sold a fake one-ounce bar attributed to the Mint. The Mint denied supplying the fake, saying that counterfeits of its bullion products are “extremely rare and this is an isolated case.”

But as a number of critics responded, bullion and currency counterfeiters don’t normally produce one-off fakes.

That was a point also emphasized by two U.S. congressmen who chastised their country’s mint and Secret Service for not investigating a batch of fake American Eagle gold coins. As reported in Goldseek, their letter included what appeared to be a 1995 example. “You are free to keep it, as it’s a worthless tungsten fake,” the congressmen stated.

They go on to ask what investigations have taken place into fake bullion and what anti-counterfeiting measures are being introduced “to protect the integrity of U.S. coins minted specifically of gold, silver, platinum and palladium.”

A statement from Canada’s mint emphasizes its world-class assay lab and “advanced anti-counterfeiting features … such as Bullion DNA technology and micro-engraved security marks.”

Kitco referred to a recent statement from the Professional Numismatists Guild calling fake bullion a multi-million-dollar business. By happy coincidence a news outlet and bullion dealer, Kitco emphasized the importance of buying from a reputable seller.

But as Murenbeeld & Co analyst Brian Bosse told CBC, “The real question is, how did this get into RBC’s inventory?” An RBC spokesperson said the bank has an internal investigation underway “but wouldn’t say if the bank is making changes to how it handles and verifies bullion,” CBC added.

Bosse warned the network that counterfeiting could place a chill on the bullion market.

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