At the request of the U.S. Secret Service, eBay has begun purging
the online auction site of listings offering for sale Liberty Dollar
medallions in gold, silver, platinum and copper.
Officials at eBay indicate the systematic removal beginning Nov.
29 of the listings is intended to conform with its policy implemented
Feb. 20 banning the listing of counterfeits and replicas on eBay.com.
In emails sent by eBay to sellers whose listings for Liberty
Dollars were canceled, officials at the online auction site expressed
their regrets for having to take the action.
“The United States Secret Service has requested the removal of all
Norfed Liberty dollars on the eBay site as counterfeits. ...
“Please do not relist this item(s).
“We appreciate that you chose to list this coin on our site and
understand there was no ill intent on your part. Your listing fees
have been credited to your account.”
Contacted by Coin World, eBay spokesman Ryan Moore
offered the following comment: “The listings for Norfed Liberty
Dollars have been removed as they have been deemed counterfeit by the
United States Secret Service. Counterfeits are illegal and not welcome
on any of eBay’s sites.”
NORFED is more formally known as the National Organization for the
Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code. The
group issued Liberty Dollar medallions as an alternative to Federal
Reserve notes, and advocated their commercial use.
Canceled eBay listings
Dave Gillie, who began buying and selling Liberty Dollars in 2001
and later became a regional currency officer for NORFED, said Dec. 5
that he had eight of his listings for Liberty Dollars canceled on Nov. 29.
Gillie still accepts Liberty Dollars at his Gillie’s Coney Island
restaurant in Mount Morris, Mich., in payment for meals.
The dealer was perplexed by the government’s characterization of
Liberty Dollars as counterfeits. Gillie said in a Dec. 5 email to Coin
World that out of respect for eBay’s “coerced” decision he will not
list Liberty Dollars for sale at the website until “they change their
Gillie estimates he has sold and exchanged thousands of Liberty
Dollars in the years he’s been involved with them. Gillie says he’s
also purchased hundreds of Liberty Dollars from former NORFED regional
currency officers leery about what legal action authorities could take
against those own Liberty Dollars.
Liberty Dollars targeted
The Liberty Dollar, introduced in 1998 by its monetary architect,
Bernard von NotHaus, was deemed counterfeit during a March 2011
federal trial in North Carolina. Von NotHaus was convicted on four
counts involving the production and distribution of the Liberty
Dollars. Von NotHaus has yet to be sentenced.
Von NotHaus billed Liberty Dollars as an alternative form of money
for those who do not want to use Federal Reserve notes. Federal
officials claimed the metallic Liberty Dollars violated federal
Coin World contacted the U.S. Secret Service’s Office of Public
Affairs in Washington, D.C., as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in
Charlotte, N.C., for specific comments regarding the issues of
ownership and sale of Liberty Dollars still in collector hands. As of
Dec. 7, no responses had been given to Coin World.
In 2006, the U.S. Mint issued a press release stating that
prosecutors at the Department of Justice determined that using Liberty
Dollars as circulating money is a federal crime.
The Liberty Dollar was introduced by NORFED as a “private
voluntary barter currency,” with the medallions exchanged for goods
and services with merchants willing to accept them according to the
stated face value on each.
Several questions remain unanswered by the Secret Service:
➤ Are the pieces legal to own, sell, distribute or even exhibit
for educational purposes at a coin show or other venue?
➤ Will federal law enforcement authorities seek to seize any of
the tens of thousands of Liberty Dollars still in private hands?
Liberty Dollars were issued in multiple sizes and stated face
values, with the silver 1-ounce pieces being the most popular used in
exchanges. Face values changed over the years as the price of silver rose.
The medals proved popular with collectors.
With von NotHaus’ March, 18, 2011, conviction, values for Liberty
Dollars were driven higher still. The number of eBay sales for such
pieces also rose subsequent to the court case.
The seizure by federal authorities in November 2007 of millions of
the Liberty Dollars held in a third-party warehouse in Idaho
effectively shut down von NotHaus’ Liberty Services.
NORFED had been dissolved in December 2006, and resurrected as
Liberty Services, doing business as Liberty Dollar. ■