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Community Voice Responses (02/21/2012)

From the Jan. 27 Numismatic News E-Newsletter: Will eBay’s new policy on replicas reduce the threat from Chinese counterfeits? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor, Dave Harper.

From the Jan. 27 Numismatic News E-Newsletter: Will eBay’s new policy on replicas reduce the threat from Chinese counterfeits? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor, Dave Harper.

The announcement by eBay and PNG to ban the selling of all replica coins appears to be a decision to resolve eBay from having to help enforce the Hobby Protection Act or enforcing their own policies against selling illegal items.
Up until the enforcement of this policy, if there was a problem with a purchased coin, the buyer would either work with the seller to resolve the issue or contact eBay for dispute resolution. If the seller was found to be selling counterfeit coins, they would be banned from eBay for violating their selling policies. Rather than continue to provide customer protection or ask PNG to assist with that task, eBay takes this heavy handed measure.
According to the new rule, all replica and “tribute” coins, even if they are permanently marked with the word ���COPY” as required by the Hobby Protection Act, will not be allowed to be sold on eBay. However, silver rounds that might resemble previous commemoratives, such as the buffalo silver rounds, will allowed to be sold.
This new policy only effects coins and not medals or currency. The policy is only for coins that are advertised and/or marked as a copy of an original coin. It does not address counterfeit coins or coins that have been altered by tooling or using restoration methods and then sold as genuine, original coins. The policy does not address selling 1943 Lincoln steel cents that have been recoated in zinc, called reprocessed coins, and sold as genuine. They are real steel cents but without original surfaces.
How will this help stem the tide of counterfeit coins produced outside of the United States? Since counterfeit coins are being sold as genuine. All this policy does is close a legitimate market for copied or tribute coins without doing anything to those selling counterfeits.
It is good that eBay and PNG are working together to make eBay a safer marketplace for collectors. This is a heavy-handed act suggesting that eBay protect the consumer from themselves. It would be better if eBay and PNG would work together to assist law enforcement and the State Department to prevent counterfeit coin from being sold to the U.S. public.

Scott Barman Rockville, Md.

I read with great interest that eBay will put a ban on listing coin replicas on their site. However, one area that concerns me are “genuine coins” with fake counterstamps or countermark’. This is rather more difficult for the typical collector to determine, but it is a matter that needs to be addressed within the scope of the ban on replicas.

Ken Eckardt
Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, England

I think that eBay’s new policy on replicas will reduce the threat from Chinese counterfeits because eBay is where a majority of the coins are sold. No market, no business, no counterfeits. I am still worried about counterfeits that are in NGC and PCGS looking slabs. I am not sure what eBay can do about that other than having the sellers review and sign a 30-page code of ethics statement.
I think this eBay policy is about two years too late. What took so long?

Rick Snow San Lorenzo, Calif.

I don’t think this policy was designed to stop counterfeit Chinese coins, since the counterfeits are so good that often only a very experienced buyer can tell the difference and counterfeit coins were already banned unless they were identified as being replicas. I believe that the move was designed to clear up a lot of the clutter in listings. Just the mere listing of the replicas caused a drop in confidence among potential bidders, in my view.

Haddon Zia California

You might want to add, “eBay buyer beware! Fakes are on their way!” Now counterfeiters will just stop listing their coins as replicas and sell them in smaller supplies under various eBay store aliases.
The problem with the new eBay policy is the same problem you have with locks; they are only for keeping the honest people out. If you read the fine print, you’ll find that what eBay’s partners are really saying is “Don’t trust any coin purchased on eBay that is not enclosed in the PCGS slab.” In other words, there are a lot of toes that are actually being stepped on by this new eBay policy.
So no! eBay’s new policy on replicas will not reduce nor stop the threat from Chinese counterfeiter. But it may help increase PCGS sales.

Edward Reuben Eugene, Ore.

Long before eBay there have been legitimate replicas. Long before eBay there have been Chinese counterfeits. I bet they will still be around long after eBay becomes obsolete.
I bought a few replicas from Ron Landaus of Eureka Mint Museum. They are all marked “copy” and are works of art. I don’t care if eBay will not sell them.
eBay is no better than the Chinese when it comes to consumer protection, in my opinion. They need to be put in their place. They are not the only place where items can be bought and sold. Their bullying tactics will only loose them business. Any business too busy to take care of their customer’s business problems will fail when a service-oriented business is an alternative.

Donald Cantrell

I think that the eBay’s decision to ban counterfeits is good. I have reported large amounts of counterfeit coins on eBay and asked to get them removed.
Most buyers don’t know that they’re buying fake coins, and even with those who know, there’s a great risk that the coin may go forward without that knowledge.
In my opinion, Chinese counterfeits have caused trouble in Europe. Coins from mid-19th to mid-20th century are now much less desirable because of the large number of fake ones.
I know a collector who collected British Trade dollars and after simple checking (weight, magnetism, general wear) of his new items, less than half of them were real.
Banning fakes on eBay is important because by volumes it’s an important sales channel. It’s good to remember that especially in Europe there is very little interest in graded and slabbed coins, not to mention the lack of European grading companies, so there is one step less in filtering of counterfeits.
However, there are old forgeries which may have some importance, but I’d estimate that the ratio of harmful counterfeits and useful counterfeits is under 100 to 1.
Maybe they will be listed in other eBay categories, with a note about their counterfeit status, which is clearly not for the coins. I understand that the Secret Service hunts U.S. counterfeits actively, but there are counterfeits looking like coins from countries that don’t exist anymore or coin types that have been demonetized a long time ago.

Ossi Halme London, England

eBay’s new policy on replicas will only serve to reduce the threat of counterfeits that can be bought on eBay. But it will have little or no effect on the overall availability to purchase Chinese counterfeit replicas.
eBay is by no means the only horse and pony show in town. Just to name a few others, there’s eBid, ePier and iOffer, all deal in the sale of coin replicas. And these are just the tip of the iceberg of the available websites that deal in coin replicas.
The only advantage that eBay has over the other auction sites, is the fact that eBay is well known and heavily trafficked; thus it made shopping for replicas easy and convenient. But in the end, eBay’s new policy on replicas will by no means reduce the threat from Chinese counterfeiters, it will only serve to concentrate the threat elsewhere.

Mercury Williams Seattle, Wash.

The policy doesn’t go far enough. eBay should ban all copies whether marked or unmarked. China refuses to stop the counterfeiting and the U.S. government will do nothing because of fear of the Chinese government’s reaction or a just plain “we don’t care” attitude.
Meanwhile, collectors continue to get misled and ripped off. Maybe eBay could have a listing of copies only and keep them away from the real coin auctions.
As a longtime collector, I no longer buy on eBay unless a coin is certified due to counterfeits. How can anyone trust that those Bust halves that are advertised are real?
eBay has brought it on itself by allowing the practice of selling “fakes” to go on as long as it has. Find a coin dealer you can trust or let the buyer beware.

D. DeLancey Dallastown, Pa.

I wish it would, but I do not think any supposed eBay restrictions will have much effect on Chinese counterfeits. Good counterfeits, fake slabs or not, cannot be identified by common internet quality photos.
If restrictions were aimed at auction items from China they would move their operations to Canada, or wherever, which is already being done. The use of “snitches” would only devolve into competition quashing and eBay has no ability to police itself.
The damage done to the market by these counterfeits is significant and extremely difficult to control.

James Martin