Five numismatic organizations issued a warning about the threat posed by Chinese-made counterfeit coins to unsuspecting consumers.
The American Numismatic Association, Professional Numismatists Guild, Industry Council for Tangible Assets, Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and the Professional Coin Grading Service issued the consumer advisory.
They estimate that millions of dollars have been spent buying fakes online or at flea markets.
Consumers who buy an item based only on its perceived rarity and who have no knowledge as to how to determine whether the coin is genuine subject themselves to great risk of losing their money, their statement says.
They urge consumers to educate themselves before making purchases: know what you are buying and purchase only from reputable, experienced rare coin dealers (professional numismatists).
“We believe many of these counterfeits subsequently are being resold as genuine rare coins in online auctions and at flea markets and swap meets,” said Clifford Mishler, ANA president.
It is a violation of United States federal law to sell unmarked replicas. The U.S. Hobby Protection Act, first enacted in 1973 (Public Law 93-167 15 US Code §2101 et seq) requires manufacturers and importers of imitation numismatic items to mark them plainly and permanently with the word, “COPY” in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (16 CFR part 304).
Thousands of coins described as “copy” or “replica” are listed for sale in online auctions every day, according to the five. There also are numerous reports of replica coins being exported from China without the word, “COPY,” incused in the surface as the law requires. On most online offers, photos of the replica depict the word, falsely showing consumers a different product than the one they’re actually buying.
“We believe many of these are simply counterfeits that eventually will be purchased for significant amounts of money by unsuspecting buyers,” said Fred Weinberg, ICTA chairman.
Their statement says that to protect the public, the organizations are aggressively working to:
• Combat the unrestricted imports of counterfeit coins;
• Halt the fraudulent offerings in online auctions;
• Explore asking for legal actions by federal law enforcement agencies against importers and re-sellers of illegal numismatic items;
• Explore united legal action by our organizations to protect the public.
“Some of the counterfeits are of extremely high quality, so if you don’t know rare coins, you’d better know your coin dealer. You should only buy from reputable and knowledgeable dealers who have a return policy with regard to non-genuine coins,” said Don Willis, president of the Professional Coin Grading Service.
For a copy of the informative booklet, What You Should Know Before You Buy Rare Coins, send $1 to the Professional Numismatists Guild, 3950 Concordia Lane, Fallbrook, CA 92028.