This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Nearly $5 million has now been recovered for unwitting buyers of overpriced coins through the intervention of the Numismatic Consumer Alliance, Inc., according to John Albanese, founder and president of the not-for-profit watchdog organization.
That comes to an average of close to $1 million per year since NCA became operational in 2005.
More than $735,000 has been recovered in the 19 most recent cases, Albanese said, with the largest single case involving $130,000. As in the past, he said, disproportionate numbers of victims were elderly individuals who had purchased coins priced well above their true market level from telemarketers who touted them as good investments.
“It’s very disturbing to see the way unscrupulous sellers prey upon older Americans – people who are living on limited incomes and can ill afford to waste their money on scams, especially during these difficult times,” Albanese said. “These con artists convince older people to sink their life savings into high-mintage modern coins and other so-called investments that are really just numismatic junk.
“We’ve looked into cases where the coins were worth as little as one-tenth what people paid for them, and that’s simply unconscionable.”
Albanese said the elderly victims in particular not only had little or no knowledge about coins, but also lacked the Internet savvy to check out what they were buying and who they were buying it from.
The New Jersey-based alliance intervenes on such buyers’ behalf, engaging legal and other professional assistance if necessary, in an effort to counteract and discourage flagrant abuses in coin-related transactions.
NCA seeks no compensation when it enters a case on behalf of an aggrieved consumer, even though it frequently incurs substantial legal bills and other expenses in the process. The funds to cover such costs are contributed by coin dealers and others who share its concern about fraud and deception by disreputable coin sellers.
Albanese said about 80 percent of the cases are resolved through negotiations between NCA and the sellers. The other 20 percent can be far more
difficult and costly to resolve, he said.
In the vast majority of cases, the misrepresented coins encountered by NCA are housed in holders from “fringe grading services” bearing grades substantially higher than accepted market levels, Albanese said, The alliance has intensified its scrutiny of such grading services and also has been developing plans for new educational programs, he said.
For more about NCA, visit www.stopcoinfraud.org.