US Coins

Anti-counterfeiting panel at Mint numismatic forum

Something is amiss with this 2014-W American Eagle 1-ounce gold coin, which has Proof surfaces is in a Mint State slab. The coin, holder and grading label are all fake. The example illustrated was not shown at the forum.

Image courtesy of dealer who wishes to remain anonymous.

During an Oct. 17 Numismatic Forum, U.S. Mint officials were surprised that most of the more than 100 individuals invited had seen an example of a counterfeit United States bullion coin.

A three-member presentation panel on counterfeits featured Ron Harrigal, the Mint’s manager of design and engraving; Beth Deisher, former Coin World editor who is now director of the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force under the Industry Council for Tangible Assets; and Walter Douglas, a senior industrial engineer in the Mint’s Quality Assurance Division.

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Deisher was the only non-Mint representative to deliver remarks during the day-long forum, the third annual event staged by the Mint to address hobby and industry concerns.

Harrigal said Mint officials have been not directly exposed to counterfeit U.S. bullion coin products, made aware only through what they have read in the numismatic press. When he asked how many of those in attendance had seen a counterfeit U.S. bullion coin, nearly all hands were raised.

Harrigal chairs an internal 15-member Mint task force reportedly responsible for addressing counterfeiting issues.

Deisher provided the background on the formation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force less than two years ago and the efforts to combat the secondary market proliferation of fakes and assist law enforcement in developing criminal cases against the persons responsible.

Deisher says the problem does not involve genuine products shipped out of the Mint, but fakes introduced into the market that replicate those products.

The most common counterfeited U.S. bullion coin encountered in the market, she said, is the American Eagle 1-ounce .9167 fine gold $50 coin. The counterfeits are struck on tungsten planchets that are plated first with copper and then plated with gold.

The fakes will exhibit proper weight and specific gravity and only be detectable using special diagnostic equipment designed to detect fakes. 

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