Counterfeiters target silver bullion products of multiple manufacturers

Chinese operations infiltrate collector, investor channels
By , Coin World
Published : 02/29/16
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Manufacturers in China continue counterfeiting genuine bullion products, primarily of U.S. companies, causing financial headaches both for the makers of the genuine pieces and for the fakes’ secondary market buyers who are unaware of the bogus pieces.

More than a half dozen U.S. makers of 1-ounce silver bars and rounds have been targeted repeatedly by counterfeiters, with the knock-offs offered for sale on the individual websites of the Chinese distributors and manufacturers, as well as Alibaba.com, an international trade site headquartered in China.

Moreover, a Staten Island, N.Y., coin dealer reports he was recently duped into buying 225 counterfeit pieces, bars and rounds that are composed of silver plate over brass or a zinc alloy. The alleged seller is identified as being sought by authorities in Gloucester County, N.J., for bilking two New Jersey dealers with similar counterfeit bullion products.

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The counterfeit silver bars and rounds are identical in appearance to the genuine bullion products they replicate, including stating the fineness of silver as .999 and weight as 1 troy ounce. The fake bars and ingots are offered online with the description of the composition accurately described as being base metal plated over with silver.

Examples can be purchased online well under $1 each, in quantity.

The fake 1-ounce bars purchased in January by Dan Davis with Staten Island Coin Investors for $3,000 duplicate designs of genuine silver bars issued by Northwest Territorial Mint, Pan American Silver Corp. (produced for the past 10 years until December 2015 by Northwest Territorial Mint), Scottsdale Silver, SilverTowne, Engelhard, APMEX, and the Highland Mint’s American Buffalo 1-ounce rounds.

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Sunshine Minting is also reported to be a target of the counterfeits, although the examples Davis purchased did not include any Sunshine Minting pieces.

Ross Hansen, owner of Northwest Territorial Mint, said the Chinese counterfeits have posed a financial strain on his business. He said he has pursued civil remedies without success and even has sent representatives to China to meet with government officials and the firms responsible for making the knockoffs. He has also contacted secondary market sites that offer the pieces in an attempt to get them removed from sale.

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