The counterfeiting of numismatic or “rare” coins is another issue, Gleason said.
“That’s because it’s relatively easy to detect whether something is actually gold or silver — or not,” Gleason said. “But fake graded coins that are made of the real metal may be more tricky.”
Donald Herres, president of Dollartowne in Bellbrook, Ohio, said his firm has discovered its share of counterfeits from bullion products offered for sale, requiring each piece to be checked for authenticity.
“Local law enforcement, the United States Secret Service and the U.S. Mint are overwhelmed with other activities,” Herres said. “The counterfeit problem, in my opinion, is just not ‘sexy.’ For the feds, I believe, it’s low priority, a single victim crime or a crime that only affects a few.
“However, counterfeiting does affect every single American and our money.”
Herres contributed the following insights:
“It would be nice if the U.S. Mint would partner with the bullion dealer to help with counterfeit detection, education and prevention. This would include educational materials provided to the dealer for the customer.
“I would like to see the U.S. Mint to put a committee together, like they have with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, to get input from bullion dealers on counterfeit detection and reporting.
“The Royal Canadian Mint sends out counterfeit detection materials to subscribed customers. They keep an open line of communication with the bullion partners. The new coins also have anti-counterfeiting technology that is embedded in the GML [gold Maple Leaf] and SML [silver Maple Leaf].
“Most importantly, stricter penalty for possession and sale of known counterfeits.”
Terry Hanlon, president of Dillon Gage Metals, one of the U.S. Mint’s authorized purchasers of bullion coins, says the wholesale bullion firm tests for authenticity each and every bullion piece it acquires.
“We see counterfeit coins,” Hanlon said. “There are devices to measure volume, magnetism, specific gravity and metal content.”
Hanlon notes that some online websites offer counterfeits of U.S. bullion coins as “reproductions.”
“Why would anyone want to own a reproduction other than to cheat someone?” Hanlon asks.
Hanlon says the U.S. Mint needs to step up its game on the anti-counterfeiting front.
“The U.S. Mint has kind of ignored any aggressive action or proactive approach like that taken by other mints to at least make it look like they are doing something,” Hanlon said. “There needs to be political pressure exerted to stop these counterfeits from entering the country, many from China. The sleeping bear needs to wake up.”