On the trail of gold counterfeiters with Gold & Co.
I hear from many clients: "When converting savings into gold, silver or other precious metals, the most important thing is to get the best price! Isn't it? After all, gold is the same everywhere?!"
That is quite true, fine gold is the same everywhere. But how do I know for sure that what I bought cheap is actually worth what I paid for it? Especially if I didn't buy it from a reputable dealer, but from a private person, on auction platforms or via web stores without a real reputation?
I have my own opinion as an expert, who has to deal with frauds around gold continuously via courts: All those, who buy gold from uncertain sources in good faith or out of false thrift, run with highest probability the risk of paying real money for tin! I have the 100% security only if I buy guaranteed genuine and tested goods from a reputable dealer.
But how do I find a good specialty retailer? My tips for this are:
- Rely on recommendations from friends and relatives
- Read reviews on Google and other platforms. Many reviews are good, but for pure 5 star companies the reviews are mostly bought.
- Conduct Internet research. Check whether the company appears in the company ABC and whether the address from the imprint is correct.
- Does a retail store exist?
- Take a double look at a web store! Since when does it exist? I also advise to call the phone number given. Make a small test order!
Is there any legitimate reason at all to be afraid of buying the wrong bar?
My clear answer is: YES, more and more fake bars are offered!
As you may know, I am a generally sworn and court certified expert for precious metals. And I have a very interesting specialization, namely the detection of forgeries. I have made it my hobby - apart from my profession - to discover, recognize and also collect forgeries in order to train my employees at Gold & Co. so well that they are guaranteed not to be duped into buying a fake piece.
For example, my team has just again identified a perfectly counterfeit 100 gram bar as false despite correct measurements on various measuring devices and handed over the convicted fraudsters to the police.
What is special about this case?
You must know that it is a high art to check packed and welded gold bars for authenticity. Modern packaged counterfeits with tungsten also make it difficult to make a reliable statement of authenticity, as many testing methods cannot penetrate the packaging or the applied gold layer is too thick to get at the counterfeit material without drilling or filing. In addition, destroying the packaging means a loss of value and that the bar is not resalable. Apart from the ecological senselessness in times of climate change of destroying perfectly good goods in order to produce them anew afterwards, it means a loss for the customer, since these costs inevitably reduce the purchase price.
In my opinion, it is the task of a competent and professionally qualified dealer to verify usually gold and silver products beyond doubt and as far as possible without damage.
That is why we train our employees not only to rely on high-end testing equipment, but also to use classical methods in their training, so that they also develop a feeling and eye for the real as well as the fake.
To do this, we train with the latest counterfeits and check whether our test equipment and our team can detect them.
And that works out excellently! I am proud to say that my employees have the necessary professional competence and demonstrate it even under high time pressure - and thus unmask counterfeiters and fraudsters almost every month and pull counterfeits out of the market.
But why is it so difficult to unmask a fake?
Firstly, the bars are perfectly packaged like the originals.
Second: The new counterfeits now match the original not only in terms of minting, but also in terms of size.
Third: They are also marked with a serial number running and shrink-wrapped in plastic packaging with the certificate.
For a long time, forgeries were made in gold-plated brass, but these never came close to the original in size and weight due to the physical differences with gold, and were thus relatively easy to detect. For some years now, however, the counterfeiting industry has been dabbling in tungsten as a counterfeiting material, which has almost the same density as gold and thus enables the same size at the same weight as gold.
Thus, I personally know of tungsten forgeries among the coins of the Krugerrand, Maple Leaf and American Eagle, butnot a single one of the Vienna Philharmonic, which, due to its richness of detail and high minting quality, can hardly be technically forged with tungsten. This again speaks for the quality of the Austrian Mint and once again justifies its place on the podium of the most important mints in the world!
Which products are most often counterfeited?
Mostly 1 ounce and 100 gram bars. Why? Because the packaging with all the security features and the serial number, which should guarantee the authenticity to the customer, can be easily and perfectly counterfeited.
If, in addition, a tungsten bar encased in gold plate is then sealed in the packaging, it is unlikely that the counterfeit will be detected, even by a professional using conventional testing methods without destroying the packaging. There were probably also tests with 1g and 2g bars around 2005, but the effort was probably too great.
With the current gold prices of recent years as well as the large turnover, more and more counterfeiters are developing even better materials and methods, and try to infiltrate fake investment products such as coins and bars in high quality into the markets. This is very often done through fakeshops, auction or listing platforms via sales between private individuals. Basically, it is always played with the greed for profit of the buyers. In the end, they pay for it, because they bought the supposedly cheap, fake goods unknowingly.
I describe in my book "The Gold You Trust" (publication in the fall of 2023), in addition to the types of forgery, also in detail the fraud schemes, for example, with gold savings plans, the overpriced sale of medals in coin outfits and publish dubious precious metal fakeshops that lure gullible customers, for example, with 10-percent first customer discounts and renowned dealers copying. If there's one thing I've learned on the job, it's that the Wall Street adage "greed eats brains" has also cost many here a lot of money.
In summary, we can be sure that counterfeits will become even better in the future, but also that manufacturers are working on higher safety standards.
And I repeat one thing: Only reputable and competent specialist dealers can offer the customer security in this respect. Every product that a customer buys at Gold & Co. has gone through a multi-stage inspection process beforehand and has been checked by real experts. At Gold & Co. you definitely buy safely!