Anti-fraud group recovers funds in 2013
- Published: Apr 4, 2014, 9 AM
The Numismatic Consumer Alliance Inc. helped recover nearly $1 million during 2013 for consumers who were victims of unscrupulous coin sales, according to John Albanese, founder and president of the not-for-profit watchdog organization.
NCA has now recovered more than $8 million since it began in 2005 — an average of about $1 million annually — for unwitting and often unknowledgeable buyers who were induced to purchase grossly overpriced coins, Albanese said.
NCA was founded in 2005 by 10 professional numismatists with more than 20 years experience who each provided seed money of $10,000 apiece.
Disputes involving potential abuses are referred to NCA by a number of sources, including hobby organizations, numismatic periodicals, law enforcement agencies, reputable coin dealers and consumers, and victims’ families and friends.
The New Jersey-based group acts on behalf of such buyers, obtaining legal and other professional assistance when needed, in an attempt to rectify abuses in coin-related transactions and discourage perpetrators from continuing these practices.
Albanese said the 10 cases settled in 2013 involved amounts ranging from a low of $3,500 to a high of $330,000.
In most of these cases, including the largest, he said, the victims were elderly people targeted in telephone scams.
Albanese said that, often, “the victims’ sons and daughters are the ones who contact us. And by the time they realize what’s been happening, the wild overpayments can total many thousands of dollars.”
American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins are among scammers’ favorite products, Albanese said.
“They [the scammers] get these coins certified as [Mint State] 69 or 70,” he said, “then sell them for exorbitant prices on the grounds that they’re rare in those grades — which, of course, they’re not.
“And, in any case, condition is irrelevant with bullion coins,” Albanese noted.
NCA and PNG
Albanese praised the Professional Numismatists Guild for its support of NCA and its independent efforts to curb abuses in the coin market.
PNG President Terry Hanlon lauded NCA’s work in protecting consumers.
“As part of our own consumer protection policies, PNG member-dealers must adhere to a Code of Ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise, and pledge to support our Coin Collectors Bill of Rights,” according to Hanlon.
“In the unlikely event of a dispute, PNG members must agree to binding arbitration to resolve the issues,” Hanlon added.
Scott A. Travers, a prominent consumer advocate and author of The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual, serves as Numismatic Consumer Alliance’s executive mediator. Like Albanese, Travers sees the hyping of bullion coins with lofty certified grades as one of the most serious problems in the current marketplace.
Numismatic Consumer Alliance Inc. seeks no compensation when it enters a case on behalf of a victimized consumer, even though it frequently incurs substantial legal bills and other expenses in the process.
The funds to cover such costs are contributed by coin dealers and others who share NCA’s concern about fraud and deception by disreputable coin sellers and the harmful effects these practices can have on the marketplace as a whole.
Once a case is referred to the NCA, the organization contacts the consumers to determine the validity of their claims and asks for copies of all pertinent paperwork. If it concludes that the buyers were scammed, it contacts the sellers and urges them to make appropriate restitution to avoid legal action.
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