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Fake Coin Scam a Sophisticated Threat
By Harry Miller, Numismatic News
December 19, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Our store is not normally open on Saturdays. One Saturday I had an appointment with a longtime client. While there, a man in his 30s came in and mentioned a Carson City dollar for sale.

The man came to the counter when I was ready. To my surprise, he produced an AU-50 Professional Coin Grading Service certified 1889-CC dollar. He told me he had inherited it along with many other coins from his grandfather and produced a copy of a 2007 auction bill from a well-known company in his grandfather’s name along with the accompanying auction listing and photo. He had the same family name as his grandfather. I looked at the coin, went to my computer and checked the PCGS listings to make sure the numbers matched. They did. I did notice that the toning (light gold) was a little more apparent than in the photo but that is not unusual because of lighting effects during photography. I then looked up actual bids on one of the major trading systems and mumbled that the low bid was $2,700 but that was pretty cheap. Then before I could mention bids of more than double that he stated that he felt the coin was worth at least $3,500. My heart raced and I asked are you sure? His reply was he wouldn’t take less than $3,300. I hesitated and said OK. While I began doing the paperwork and recording his photo I.D. we had a pleasant conversation, but something was lurking in the back of my head.

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Just as I was about to write him a check, I asked myself why someone with such an easily salable coin would be willing to give me a $2,000 to $3,000 gift? I stopped. I examined the coin as if it were uncertified. I noticed two small raised die marks near the date and a few others. My memory told me that they are not normal for an 1889-CC dollar, so I went back to the computer and brought up the photo from the auction. This time I enlarged the photo and found no raised die marks, ouch. I became very concerned because I was alone and in the middle of a well-thought-out fraud. I politely told the guy that the photo did not match his coin and I did not wish to purchase it. His reaction was passive, which convinced me he knew. Now frauds and switches happen all too often in this industry, but this was extremely well done. After careful examination I did notice the logo on the holder was a slight bit light but that could have been due to age and environment. Beware.




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