US Coins

Mint claims no complaints on counterfeit bullion

U.S. Mint Acting Deputy Mint Director David Motl claims in a Nov. 17 letter responding to a congressional inquiry into the counterfeiting of U.S. precious metals coins that the bureau has not received any “complaints” over the past two years of fake current-issue gold, platinum or silver coins.

Motl’s statement, however, does not jibe with Coin World news coverage over the past three years of a number of instances of counterfeit U.S. American Eagle Proof and bullion coins being fraudulently sold as genuine, including issues of different dates submitted for third-party grading service certification. In preparation for writing those news articles, Coin World routinely informed Mint officials of the appearance of the counterfeits in the marketplace. 

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The fakes reported to the Mint by Coin World include American Eagle 1-ounce gold $50 coins of various dates. Also included were counterfeit versions of the U.S. Mint 30th Anniversary Proof 2016-W American Eagle silver dollar. An example purchased in October 2016 at a flea market in Lynchburg, Virginia, bears a reeded edge instead of the special 30th anniversary incuse edge inscription. The genuine 2016 American Eagle silver bullion coins were struck at the West Point Mint with the standard reeded edge.

All of Coin World’s news articles were illustrated with examples of the counterfeits discussed.

Congress seeks answers

On Oct. 27, 2017, two members of the House Financial Services Committee, Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and Frank Lucas, R-Okla., an avid coin collector, sent separate letters to the Mint and U.S. Secret Service seeking information on what is being done by the Mint and Secret Service to protect the integrity of U.S. Mint precious metals coins.

The inquiries were triggered by one of Mooney’s constituents being defrauded in the purchase of counterfeit bullion coins offered as genuine U.S. Mint products.

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When a congressional inquiry for information is made, the agency from whom the information is requested has 30 days to respond with the information or seek an extension. The Mint provided its response within the required time limit.

A spokesman for Rep. Lucas said his office has not received any response from the Secret Service. Coin World has unsuccessfully tried to reach Secret Service officials for public comment about its response, if any. 

As of Dec. 5, no response had been received by Lucas or Mooney from the agency.

In his Oct. 27 response to Lucas and Moon­ey, Motl states the Mint takes the issue of counterfeiting seriously.

“I want to assure you that the United States Mint shares your concerns about the issue of counterfeiting, and while this topic is not a new one, the increased opportunity and availability of materials to counterfeit precious metals coins have altered this discussion, and made this issue more relevant than ever,” Motl wrote in his response to two congressmen. “The Mint is committed to safeguard the integrity and value of United States coinage, including our bullion coin programs. To that end, the Mint has proactively examined this issue through one-on-one discussions in various domestic and international forums, and with industry leaders, sovereign mints, as well as our bullion coin program’s authorized purchasers. On Oct. 17, the Mint hosted its second annual numismatic forum, which include 68 industry leaders, to discuss marketplace issues and best practices.

“Additionally, the Mint’s leadership is dedicated to working with all stakeholders to study new anti-counterfeiting measures, including next generation laser technology, to ensure that the Mint remains at the forefront of security innovations.

“We also work closely with our customers and collectors to ensure their concerns are being heard and addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, in the past two years, we have not received any complaints about counterfeit current issue gold, platinum or silver coins. When we have received complaints about potential counterfeit coins, deceptive or misleading advertisements by private sector entities, or misuse of the Mint’s intellectual property by third parties, we have immediately taken appropriate action, or worked with other federal agencies, (including the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as relevant) to address the issue.” 

Anti-counterfeiting measures are a stated top priority for U.S. Mint Director nominee David J. Ryder, whose confirmation vote by the full Senate has been delayed by discussions and votes on tax legislation. 

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