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Gold dealer helps FBI nab criminals

The good guys win.

The bad guys lose.

This is the time of year where we really appreciate a story with a happy ending.

Just in time, we get this from the Professional Numismatists Guild:

The hero is a coin dealer member of PNG who knows that checks are not all they might seem.

He wishes to remain anonymous.

We will just have to thank PNG for the positive outcome.

According to PNG, on Dec. 6, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon H. Kim, and the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI, William F. Sweeney Jr., announced the arrests of two suspects in the case.

According to a joint statement by the Justice Department and the FBI , Stephen Decker, 59, of Secaucus, New Jersey, and Luis Mercado, 53, of Manhattan, New York, are charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Kim, the two suspects allegedly “preyed on a deceased New Yorker’s estate by stealing millions in stock certificates from her home. Then, in an attempt to cover their tracks, the defendants allegedly sold the certificates and tried to purchase more than $2 million in gold coins so that the ill-gotten gains couldn’t be traced to them.”

The dealer who was asked by one of the suspects to sell the gold said, “This just smelled bad."

The check he received was in a woman’s name.

But the bank on which the check was written said it was good.

The PNG member acted to delay any delivery of gold until he could verify the authenticity of the bank check.

The male who had sent the check could only be contacted through a telephone answering service.

His story of his relationship to the woman changed over time.

The check did clear.

The dealer kept the funds, expecting to have to return them to the bank.

He called the FBI. They opened an investigation. He also contacted a retired agent that he had known for years.

"I’m happy my suspicions helped resolve a theft case,” said the PNG member, who is a PNG Accredited Precious Metals Dealer.

“This experienced dealer knew what some other dealers may not realize,” explained PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman.

“The bank could have up to six months to reclaim the money once they learned the check was not good.”

Losing such a sum could close or cripple a business.

The bullion dealer was vigilant.

Arrests were made.

And we coin collectors have a happy ending just in time for Christmas.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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