More reports about fake gold bars have shown up, this time in Barrie, Ont.
According to a Canadian Press story published on Friday, Barrie Police “say the bars appear to be real at first glance and are professionally packed and bear a stamp resembling the Perth Mint or the Royal Canadian Mint.” However, testing has shown the bars are nothing more than copper plated with gold.
Police launched its investigation after receiving complaints from the public regarding gold bars being offered at online classified sites such as Kijiji. The CP story stated the “high-quality counterfeit bars are being offered in various weights and range in price from $300 to $1,200, but their actual worth is about 25 cents to $2.00.”
Early Saturday morning, the organization representing numismatic dealers in Canada circulated the CP story to its members.
“It seems that fake gold bars are being sold online, through sites like Kijiji, etc. They are packaged in what looks like Perth Mint and RCM packaging. However, the packaging is fake and so are the bars,” Michael Findlay, president of the Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers (CAND), wrote in the email. Members were warned “to beware of all packaged gold bars, especially if the price is to good to be true!”
There has been a influx of professionally packaged—yet counterfeit—gold and silver bars circulating in Ontario and beyond during the past year.
In October, a one-ounce “pure gold” bar was purchased by Ottawa jeweller Samuel Tang at a local RBC branch; however, Tang’s initial testing of the bar showed no signs of gold. After the Mint and RBC initially refused to accept the returned bar, Tang contacted CBC News and expressed his concerns about counterfeits on the market.
RBC then retrieved the bar and and returned it to the Mint for testing while refunding Tang the purchase price of $1,680. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were also made aware of the incident.
On Oct. 18, Tang purchased the supposedly pure gold bar from an RBC branch at 745 Bank St., which is directly across the road from his store, Joy Creations, in a neighbourhood known as the Glebe in Ottawa. Tang’s business specializes in designing and producing hand-crafted jewellery in his on-site goldsmithing workshop.
Tang’s goldsmith, Dennis Barnard, cut open what appeared to be an authentic Mint blister pack and placed the one-ounce bar in a tableting tool. He noticed the bar was difficult to roll and bend—two traits of pure gold, malleability and pliability—and when he finally bent the bar, it snapped horizontally and left a jagged line. Finally, Barnard used an acid testing kit and found the gold had a purity of less than 18 karats.
The Mint said the fake gold bar did not originate from its facility.
“The Mint did not manufacture, ship or sell the above-mentioned product,” the Mint said in a statement following its investigation, adding the ensuing media coverage has “raised unfounded speculation as to the origins of the counterfeit and the purity of Royal Canadian Mint bullion products.”
Last year, several counterfeit packaged silver ounce bars were also circulated in Ontario and Western Canada.