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Counterfeit Gold Coins and Bars

Counterfeit Gold Coins and Bars

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Gold can also fluctuate in price greatly but if you hold on, it balances out eventually, or so it seems. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is counterfeit gold. We will address this. We expect to get a lot of negative comments for doing this but this sacred cow does need to be kicked.
Gold can also fluctuate in price greatly but if you hold on, it balances out eventually, or so it seems. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is counterfeit gold. We will address this. We expect to get a lot of negative comments for doing this but this sacred cow does need to be kicked.

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Published by: Aurelia Masterson of Panamalaw.org on Aug 26, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Counterfeit Gold Coins and Bars
Executive Summary
– We hear about how great gold is all the time. We agree. It hasstoragedisadvantages for one thing.Gold can also fluctuate in price greatly but if you hold on, it balances out eventually, or so it seems.The 800-pound gorilla in the room is counterfeit gold. We will address this. We expect to get a lot of negative comments for doing this but this sacred cow does need to be kicked.
Counterfeit Gold Coins
– If you can make a false gold one-ounce coin with only half the amount of gold in it you can save about $500 an ounce. It would be hard to get arrested for this unless you were in possession of the counterfeit coins and the manufacturing equipment at the same time. Counterfeitinggold bars is not counterfeiting gold money, penalties should be low and in some countries maybe non-existent. The business model is there, criminal but there.
Gold Testers
 – There are gold testers for sale. They pass a current through the gold item. They claim to be able to tell the karat value of the gold. I am skeptical of their effectiveness on gold coins and gold bars. I think they might be valuable for thin jewelry items. Other testers go by weight, size anddiameter, again easily fooled.
Nitric Acid
– If you have a pure gold bar or coin you can drop it in a vat of nitric acid and it should notreact. Would 22K gold coins react, not sure, care to try. So if you deal in pure gold bars would this be areliable test? Of course not. What if the bar was hollowed out inside, had a cheap metal inserted andthen was sealed with gold welded over the area where they got access to the inside of the bar. Of courseit would pass this test.
Visual Observation
– Today with laser created molds that are as good as the original this is not goingto work. All one needs is an uncirculated coin to make the mold. Same should work for a bar with thestamp as well. It is easy to use alloys and dies to recreate the original color, so the counterfeit can bemade out of say 10K gold with alloys to recreate the color. Eyeballing a coin is way too subjective of atest.
Weight Test
– The coin or bar can be made out of a low karat value gold with alloys and dyes to makeit look and feel like the real product. Bad counterfeiters will have the weight off to easily detectablelevels.
Ring Test
– Drop the coin on a hard surface to hear it ring. Come on, too subjective.
Bite Test
– Again too subjective.
How to Counterfeit a Gold Bar (for information purposes only)
– This was easily found on theInternet. You begin with a tungsten slug about 1/8-inch smaller in each dimension than the gold bar youwant to counterfeit create. Next you would cast a 1/16-inch layer of real pure gold all around it. Thiswould not be so expensive to do. The resulting “gold” bar would project a good feel to the touch, itwould have a decent enough ring like a gold bar, it would test right chemically because the coating of 
 pure gold would take care of this sort of chemical test, it would weight test correctly. Gold has adensity of 19.3 g·cm−3 and tungsten has a density of 19.25 g·cm−3 so there is a detectable difference.One would need to add into the tungsten something denser like iridium or osmium. 98.5% tungstenmixed with 1.5% osmium, iridium, or osmiridium would have the exact density of gold. One wouldneed to damage the bar by drilling inside it to detect it. If you were drilling to be sure you would needto drill in several spots to be certain. It could be detected using electrical resistance testing but youwould have to have a heck of a lot of current and good equipment to detect the subtle differences. Seehow hard it is to detect. Remember the movies about the college kids learning to count cards and beatVegas? Imagine a similar movie with mining and geology graduate students manufacturing gold barsand coins in their garage. The Chinese are selling counterfeits all over eBay today.
How to Counterfeit a Rare Year Gold Coin (for information purposes only)
– Easy. Melt downregular gold coins from same country with a common year made in same year. Usually the mint wherethe rare coins were struck determines the value. Use a coin from same year at another mint. Get a laser mold, pour it and there you have it. Will pass every test known to man. Moral of this story is avoidingany numismatic valued coins.
Coin Appraisals
– Yes they are there. They are in the rare coin business. If they do not work to helpthe dealers they will go bust. The dealers must like them and use them or they are out of the market.These guys are not as straight as one thinks. Do they certify counterfeits, not that I know of. What theydo is refuse or greatly resist certifying new finds of rare coins. Same for stamps by the way. This preserves the value of the ones already certified and gives the dealers the stability in the marketplace. If they do certify a coin it is going to be real as best as they know how to detect real from counterfeit.Then there is the risk of a counterfeiter being able to fool them.
Assayed Gold that Stays in the Vault
– This is the best way to go. Assayed gold that transfersownership while remaining in a respectable vault. If you take delivery of the gold then it needs to be re-assayed to be sold again. This has its obvious pluses and minuses.
A Word about Platinum
– There is a similar temptation and profits with platinum as with gold. Themarket is much smaller which makes passing counterfeits harder when it comes to platinum. It is wiseto be very cautious.
A Word About Silver
– Silver is a much lower value precious metal. It rises and falls in price veryclose to gold. It is much harder to counterfeit cost effectively because it is not expensive enough. If youtake a gold coin and make it for 50% less you pocket say $475 on a one-ounce coin. If you do the samewith a silver round you make a margin of what $7.50. See the point. While silver is harder to transportsince you need more of it, it has a far lower counterfeit risk profile. There is not enough incentive to try.Lets say you cheated on 35% of a 100-ounce bar. What would that net you at a cost of 50% of the silver spot price? 35 ounces at a savings on $7.50 an ounce is $262. See no one is going to bother. Gold isway more lucrative to a counterfeiter. Silver has a lower risk factor for counterfeiting but still one needsto be careful.
Buy From A Reputable Dealer
– Certainly not bad advice unless the counterfeiters are so good theyfool the dealers.
 – Gold is not the trouble free utopian investment vehicle. If a country tried to operate usinghard gold and silver today the counterfeiting problem would become widespread and very problematic.How does a store know the gold or silver is authentic? How much time does the store have to test it.

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