US Coins

Minnesota dealer indicted on counterfeit coin charges

Assistance provided by the Industry Council for Tangible Assets Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force contributed to a federal indictment against 67-year-old Minnesota coin dealer Barry Ron Skog for allegedly selling counterfeit U.S. coins.

Background image courtesy of ICTA; mug shot courtesy of Dakota County (Minn.) Sheriff's Department.

A federal grand jury in Minnesota returned a six-count criminal indictment April 10 charging 67-year-old coin dealer Barry Ron Skog with five counts related to the sale of counterfeit U.S. coins and one count of mail fraud.

Skog operated Burnsville Coin Company and also sold coins at a display operated from an antique store in Stillwater, Minnesota.

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The indictment was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

The indictment indicates that, through his business Burnsville Coin Company, Skog placed advertisements in the weekly hobby publication Numismatic News. 

The indictment alleges that between June 2012 and October 2016, Skog placed advertisements for United States coins claiming they were genuine and worth hundreds of dollars.

The five counterfeit coins that Skog was indicted for having sold to three different buyers were an 1844 and an 1853 Seated Liberty dollar, an 1873 and an 1885 Seated Liberty half dollar, and an 1875 Seated Liberty 20-cent coin. The total value of the fraud is indicated to exceed $80,000.

“When potential buyers responded to the advertisements, the defendant often mailed them, via the U.S. Postal Service, lists of additional available coins for purchase,” the indictment states.

It also notes that when Skog communicated with victims he would often represent himself as “Ron Peterson” and claim to be an employee of the Burnsville Coin Company, when in fact there were no owners or employees of the company other than Skog.

Each count of selling counterfeit U.S. coins carries a fine or imprisonment for up to 15 years, or both.

The alleged fraud was investigated by Agent Joe Boche with the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau as well as investigators with the Burnsville Police Department in Minnesota. Two members of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force, of which Boche is a member, assisted with the investigation. Authorities also worked closely with the Numismatic Crime Information Center.

Upon conviction on any of the five counts, the indictment seeks forfeiture of property, including “approximately 3,000 numismatic and current U.S. and foreign coinage and tokens, and approximate 78 bills of collectible paper money.”

Based on evidence obtained in this case, authorities believe there may be additional victims who have not yet been identified. Anyone with information related to this case is encouraged to call the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau at 651-539-1617. Callers may remain anonymous.

In a previous incident, according to ICTA's Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force, Collectors Universe won a default judgment against Skog in April 2011, in which a federal court issued an order permanently enjoining Skog from manufacturing and importing counterfeit Professional Coin Grading Service holders. The order also enjoined him from selling any coin, real or counterfeit, in counterfeit PCGS holders. Collectors Universe is the parent firm of PCGS.

The civil lawsuit was filed Dec. 7, 2010, in the United States District Court, Central District of California, accusing Skog and his coin business of selling, during the previous four years, counterfeit rare coins not marked COPY but, rather, housed in counterfeit PCGS holders made to order from Chinese manufacturers.

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The lawsuit alleged violations of the Hobby Protection Act, the Lanham Act, violation of RICO, common law fraud, conspiracy and violation of California’s unfair competition law. It cited an example of a North Carolina collector who purchased two Seated Liberty dollars dated 1851 and 1858 from Skog in April 2010 for $12,400. The coins and the PCGS holders in which they were encapsulated were determined to be counterfeit.

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