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Fakes are getting better (or worse)

Discussion in 'Purchasing Precious Metals' started by ~BS, Aug 19, 2016.



  1. ~BS

    ~BS Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    Hope everyone is doing ok, haven't posted in quite a while. Growing concerned that fakes are getting more and more sophisticated, so you guys really need to be on the look out, even buying from legitimate bullion dealers because they can miss spotting these when passing on to customers. Below are only 2 examples:

    Morgan dollars - Weight getting close to actual, ping test still off. Previously the weight used to be very off, and the coins looked really fake. Nowadays, the counterfeiters have a huge variety of years they're cranking out, and are using some sort of spray on toning. So the toning on every coin is different. I had a coin that I stripped the toning partially off of, but couldn't locate it. I am sure if I mixed a few in when selling morgan dollars, even to a large dealer, these fakes would likely go unnoticed.

    Encapsulated bars - Fakes are getting better. Previously there was visible differences on the outside of the case that you could tell the coin was a fake. The plastic cases are all upgraded now and identical. I don't believe most websites covering these fakes are updated, and still claim there's visible differences in the packaging. The bars themselves are also higher quality and can defeat XRF scanners because the plating is heavier unless the bar is cut into. The color is equal to real bars since they're using pure gold plating. I asked a dealer to XRF scan the bars (10 gram and 1 ounce), and the scan came up (roughly):

    2% gold
    4% silver
    15% copper
    79% nickel

    So they're using $26 in real gold to defeat scanning/acid testing (in a 1 ounce bar). If you bought any sealed gold bars within the past year or two, I would take a hard look at it because it may be fake. I'm seeing A LOT of these fakes popping up recently.

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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
    Mr Paradise and Joe King like this.
  2. ~BS

    ~BS Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    What am I doing nowadays to verify gold/silver bars/coins, especially ones that are encapsulated (ngc/pcg/mint) that I don't want to break open?

    I'm using a bang for buck ultrasonic tester. It can read through through capsules and heavy plating. Note I'm not affiliated in any way with them.
    http://www.sigmametalytics.com/

    From what I can see testing real and fake bars, it is accurate, and should catch the vast majority of fakes using a scan that takes less than 1 second. I use it for positive identification of a fake only. If it reads as fake, it IS a fake. If it reads as authentic, there's a small chance that it may still be fake, so any other due diligence should still be done.

    Cheapest way to acquire is on ebay through a precious metal dealer. The MSRP is $800, wait until there's 6-10% ebay buck bonus. I paid around $735 for mine, kinda pricey i guess, but to me it's cheap insurance. Definitely a lot cheaper than a used XRF scanner for $10k or more that can't scan past the surface of the metal. About 3x more expensive than Fisch scanners that only does eagles, krugs, and maples, and won't detect tungsten cored fakes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  3. Joe King

    Joe King Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    Can ya imagine how bad it'll be if the stuff ever does hit the fabled $8000/oz? Might end up with more fakes in the market than real ones.
     
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  4. Goldhedge

    Goldhedge Modal Operator/Moderator Site Mgr Site Supporter

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    I'm too scared to even consider buying anything but junk.
     
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  5. ABC123

    ABC123 Silver Member Silver Miner

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    are you saying those morgans are fake? The 10 gram bar is fake?
     
  6. Mr Paradise

    Mr Paradise Midas Member Midas Member

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    You're rolling the dice with assay cards ...and the Chicoms have had the Morgans down for years.
     
  7. CrimsonGuardJay

    CrimsonGuardJay Silver Member Silver Miner

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    I bought one of those last year and promptly tested every single piece I owned, all of them came back clear. And I sighed some relief. There were at least a few transactions (a couple eBay for 10 gram bars, and one Russian banker I met off craigslist with a pamp bar, with coins flowing out of fortuna that looked slightly different from others) Turns out the pamp symbol changed a bit here and there.

    But yes, verified, all real.
     
  8. CrimsonGuardJay

    CrimsonGuardJay Silver Member Silver Miner

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    Apmex, JM, mcm, and others on eBay, modern current year releases. Guaranteed authentic, case closed.
     
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  9. southfork

    southfork Mother Lode Found Mother Lode

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    Whats to say they tested all the ones they bought from people in assay cards?
     
  10. CrimsonGuardJay

    CrimsonGuardJay Silver Member Silver Miner

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    These companies like apmex, JM, mcm, pine hurst, et al have assaying equipment that puts the sigma to shame, and they test everything they get, I'm pretty sure a company like that probably has at least a 4-man full time staff under constant surveillance to make sure they don't get fucked.
     
  11. Montecristo

    Montecristo Silver Member Silver Miner

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    I'm sure it was unintentional but you contradicted yourself here. First you said the bars are good enough to fool an XRF machine, then you said you had someone scan one and the scan determined it wasn't gold.
    We have an XRF and it has NEVER been fooled by a fake bar. A good XRF can read through the plating.

    I have seen and tested the RCM bars that you are talking about and the fakes are out there. The packaging is really, really good, but if you break out the bar, the weight will be off or the weight may be correct but then the size will be wrong if you compare it to an actual 1 oz RCM. The color will be good even out of the package.

    We have a policy, and believe me it breaks my heart to do it, EVERYTHING gets pulled from their cases and tested. I always ask and explain the reason why first. Then if we agree on a price I ask again and make sure they understand exactly what I'm about to do. If you don't want me to break it open, take it somewhere else!
     
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  12. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Silver Miner Site Supporter

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    Fakes, counterfeits, unmarked replicas, FRNs – ain’t nothin’ real anymore?

    About 15 years ago I started buying Engelhard silver bars. To me they just looked cool and they were pretty much routinely available so I focused on them. In the last few years Engelhard products have become “collector items” and the prices have increased, with the more rare specimens fetching upwards to $100 an ounce. (example: on ebait, a 3 oz bar, buy-it-now price - $1000) And a most rare Engelhard, a two ounce bar was sold for over $5000!

    These fake bars can be made of 999 silver and the counterfeiter can still reap tremendous profits. There is no government agency standing ready to throw them in jail for the rest of their life for making these as there is for making fake US coinage. None of these collector bars have standardized casting dimensions or detailed fonts that could be used to reveal fakes. The only give-a-way seems to be the serial number; they are all unique. So if you have two 5 oz bars with the same serial number they are probably both fakes.

    Check out allengelhard’s list of counterfeits they have recorded http://allengelhard.com/counterfeits/laboratory-study-assay/

    BF
     
  13. ~BS

    ~BS Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    Yes, they are all fakes. Visually, very similar to the real deal. Outside of ultrasonic testing, you'd need to acid test to ensure authenticity, making sure to go deep enough to penetrate the heavy plating for the gold. Or as montecristo points out, a good xrf machine should do the trick as well.

    The morgans weight is off, a bit heavy, and as I mentioned, they don't ping right. Of course, normally if you buy a lot of 100 morgans, you're not going to want to sit there and ping test every single one.

    Keep in mind that this is only 2 examples of the newer fakes I've seen nowadays. There are many many more that I didn't mention. I only posted this as a friendly PSA in my free time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  14. ~BS

    ~BS Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    Hi Montecristo, thank you for bringing up that potential issue. Yeah, it was unintentional.

    The XRF didn't penetrate the plating through the plastic. The assay card had to be opened and the bar had to be cut in half/drilled. I had multiples of these bars. IDK if a better or different model XRF machine would have detected the issue. I don't doubt that different XRF machines would be capable.

    Anything encapsulated or in assay cards are higher risk for fakes, the counterfeiters know it's harder to test/inspect items when they're sealed, and that the value of these items is lower once opened.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  15. CrimsonGuardJay

    CrimsonGuardJay Silver Member Silver Miner

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    The sigma is powerful enough in its basic form to penetrate the assay card on bars up to 1 oz, if the bar is larger, you can get the wired sensor. At this point, I wouldn't bother with bars, minted coins are way better and are generally unwrapped and can be readily tested
     
  16. ~BS

    ~BS Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    ^^

    Yup, I mentioned I use a sigma now. It works, and works well. I've tested it against the real deal and the growing collection of fakes.
     

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