Detect Gold Bar Counterfeit & Fake Gold Coins

Precious metal dealers have the necessary equipment to check authenticity © Own image

All that glitters is not gold! Since 2016, counterfeit gold bars and gold coins have again increasingly appeared. Especially when buying on the Internet, you should be careful. For laymen, the difference between real and fake goods is difficult to recognize.

Gold bar fraud attempt uncovered

On September 14, a 34-year-old man came into the Gold & Co. Branch at Währinger Straße 48, 1090 Vienna and tried to sell us fake bars. The gold bars were about 9×5 centimeters in size. Due to the years of experience of our employees, as well as with the help of the most modern testing equipment, it was quickly determined that they were fakes. We informed the police, who questioned the man living in Bratislava. Further forgeries with a total value of 6000 € were found on his person. He was charged with aggravated fraud at large. Please also read the article in the Standard.

Buy gold bars? Go for quality!

The popular saying is that gold is a "safe haven". This is also not to doubt. However, sometimes gold pieces, coin or bars are offered as supposed bargains from private. This can be at a highway rest stop, in the bank or over Internet platforms. There often, under pretense of an emergency situation, an emergency sale is suggested for the procurement of money. The significantly lower price seems to underline the emergency situation. But be warned! There are no gold bargains that are cheaper than, for example, 10% of the bank price; if so - the thing certainly has a catch. It can be fake or real but stolen. And neither one nor the other has pleasant legal consequences. We generally advise against buying gold privately, because the seller cannot be held accountable to you if something is wrong.

A reputable dealer, on the other hand, gives you much more security! Once apart from the fact that every dealer guarantees and is liable for his goods, you have the security of buying genuine goods.

Find a dealer you trust, possibly have a conversation before you buy, and get a personal impression in addition to internet reviews.

At Gold & Co. only precious metal experts work for your safety to avoid exactly such incidents. 130 years of expertise & family tradition just make that certain quality difference. We, at Gold & Co., carefully examine every gold bar and every gold coin and only sell goods to our customers that we ourselves would take back at any time with a clear conscience. Should you have any questions or suggestions, or would you like a free consultation? Please feel free to contact us at any time or visit us in one of our branches. We look forward to hearing from you!

Gold bar counterfeit - sale often on Ebay

While in the past it was often the larger bars that were counterfeited, what is currently new is that the counterfeits now occur in all sizes. At the moment it is mainly Perth Mint bars in the kangaroo motif as well as smaller bar sizes up to 10 grams from Heraeus (Germany) and Argor Heraeus (Switzerland) that are copied by counterfeiters. In the smaller sizes, it happens that the bars are counterfeited with brass. In these cases, a more or less significant size deviation from the original bar can be detected. What is new at the moment is that the packaging, which is supposed to guarantee counterfeit protection, is being counterfeited PERFECTLY. In the case of investment coins, the best counterfeits are made of tungsten, which has the same density as gold. As a result, the dimensions and weight are always correct. But there are still differences, as you can distinguish them with modern technology. The naked eye is easily fooled. By the way, most counterfeits in the field of gold investment products come from China and enter circulation via the online trading platform Ebay. Here you should be especially skeptical if the seller states that he cannot give a guarantee due to the private sale.

But it is not only private buyers who are at risk of falling for gold counterfeiters. Even among traders, bad purchases of gold bars sometimes occur when the know-how or suitable testing equipment is lacking. Even the Bank of England has unwittingly sold tungsten-filled bars to China.

Certified gold bars - buy only from experts

You have the following advantages when buying gold bars from a certified manufacturer:

  • Quality feature that speaks for a renowned manufacturer
  • Increased security with regard to counterfeiting
  • Easily resalable at all banks worldwide
  • No additional price deductions from the regular selling price

Certified gold bars have the following feature in common: production by a Good Delivery certified manufacturer.

This certification is awarded by the London Bullion Market Association(LBMA, based in London) to manufacturers who commit themselves to strict rules and controls in the recycling and production of gold bars. Unlike most gold bullion coins (eg. Vienna PhilharmonicMaple Leaf, Krugerrand and others), the dimensions of gold bars in the small investor range up to 1 kilogram are not standardized internationally and vary depending on the manufacturer. Therefore, renowned manufacturers voluntarily submit to the LBMA regulations and thus give the buyer the security of purchasing a high-quality bar. Renowned manufacturers in Austria are for example Münze Österreich, Heraeus (Germany) and Argor-Heraeus (Switzerland).

In any case, here's what you should consider when buying a gold bar:

  • Buy bars only from LBMA certified manufacturers.
  • Even terms such as "Dubai Good Delivery" are not LBMA certified, although the quality may well be equivalent. Otherwise, if you sell a bar from a non-LBMA certified manufacturer, you will have to factor in price deductions of up to 15%, depending on the buyer. This is because these bars cannot be resold and must be remelted.
  • Do not buy bar proprietary production from non-certified manufacturers. These adorn themselves with similar sounding certifications and thus try to come close to the LBMA certification without being entitled to the "Good Delivery" certification.

Counterfeit gold bars and coins - features

Counterfeit gold bars have different characteristics. Experts often recognize counterfeits very quickly by the impression, appearance and embossing characteristics of cast bars. In addition, physical measurements help determine authenticity. Larger bars are often counterfeited with a tungsten core, as tungsten has a similar density to gold. Density refers to the ratio of an object's mass to its volume. Tungsten has a density of 19.3, which makes it very similar to gold (19.32). However, because of the subtle difference in density, the counterfeit bar must differ from the original: In size or in weight. However, these subtle differences in size can only be seen by the trained eye. A better indicator of counterfeiting are round spots on the sides of the bars. Gold bars are in fact often drilled out, filled with tungsten and soldered with gold again.

In addition, a counterfeit gold bar of the same mass has a different weight. A certified 250 gram bar usually weighs a little over 250 grams, usually 250.01 grams. A fake tungsten bar, on the other hand, has a weight of about 249.75 grams.

Another characteristic of real gold can be detected with a magnetic balance: Gold is diamagnetic. While tungsten, like iron or nickel, has a paramagnetic effect and can be magnetized, gold counteracts an applied magnet. These characteristics are also present in counterfeit coins, which currently come mainly from China and are provided with tungsten. Here, too, parameters such as size, diameter, weight, sonic transit time and conductivity differ. The expert also recognizes manipulated gold bars by the solidification lines and the intactness of the edge stampings.

Detect counterfeit with physical methods

Accurate testing of precious metal can be done using acoustic microscopy. This is a procedure in which a very high frequency is used to obtain an internal image of an object. The gold remains undamaged because it is only treated with ultrasound. This method is particularly suitable for detecting material properties or changes. In semiconductor technology, this method is used to detect cavities, for example. Voids can also occur in gold bar counterfeiting. In acoustic microscopy, the time of flight of the sound is determined, the so-called sound travel time. This is usually given in meters per second (m/s). A measuring head is placed on the gold bar. This emits a sound that is reflected on the back of the ingot and then measured. If the bar contains a tungsten core, the sound is reflected at the beginning of the metal and not at the end of the gold bar. Thus, a counterfeit gold bar will have a longer sound travel time. While fine gold has a sound travel time of 3240 m/s, a bar counterfeited with tungsten has a sound travel time of approx. 5180 m/s.

Another method of detecting authenticity would be to check the gold bar for electrical conductivity. This method is suitable for gold bars weighing up to 50 grams. Gold bars sealed in thin foils can be tested through the foil. The measured value of electrical conductivity should be about 44.7 µS/m. Counterfeit bars have a different value.

Are you planning to invest in gold or silver? Just come to one of our branches in Vienna. Our precious metal experts will be happy to advise you. We look forward to your visit!

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