Gold Maple Leaf among most counterfeited bullion coins

A recent survey conducted by the U.S.-based Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF) indicates the gold maple leaf (GML) produced by the Royal Canadian Mint is among the most frequently counterfeited gold bullion coins.

Nearly 25 per cent of U.S. coin dealer survey respondents reported customers seeking to sell them counterfeit GMLs compared to 43.3 per cent seeking to sell them counterfeit silver American Eagle bullion coins and 41.2 per cent trying to sell them fake gold American Eagle bullion coins. Other frequently encountered fake gold bullion coins include the South African gold Krugerrand at 30.4 per cent and the Mexican gold 50 pesos at 20.1 per cent.

“The survey results are not surprising to us,” said Beth Deisher, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) director of anti-counterfeiting. “Counterfeiters – primarily from China – target the most popular products, usually market leaders with the highest brand identification.”


What the dealers are reporting in this survey are attempts to sell counterfeit product; however, “counterfeiters are not often successful in trying to fool dealers, and we like to think our efforts have helped to educate the market,” said Royal Canadian Mint media relations manager Alex Reeves, who added the Crown corporation “works closely with the ICTA and spends tens of thousands of dollars on training dealers in the U.S. to identify fakes.”

“The survey conducted by the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force strongly suggests that our efforts are paying off,” he added, emphasizing the Mint was “far ahead of its competitors” in identifying the counterfeiting trend and remains “ever vigilant to trends that affect our valued customers.”

After first adding visible security features to its GML and silver maple leaf bullion coins, the Mint launched its bullion digital non-destructive activation (DNA) anti-counterfeiting technology in 2015. With the aid of a counter-top device distributed to authorized dealers, genuine GML and SML bullion coins can now be identified in seconds.

The Mint also monitors online sales for reproductions, Reeves said.

“We have the most secure bullion coin in the world based on visible and invisible Bullion DNA security features, supported by over 150 active participants in the Bullion DNA Dealer program.  Our relentless focus on product security is a key reason we continue to deliver industry leading market-share for both our gold and silver coin bullion programs,” said Royal Canadian Mint Vice-President of Sales Chris Carkner.


Deisher cited survey results in two other categories, including bullion bars and collectible classic U.S. coins. PAMP (Suisse) gold ingots and bars are the worldwide market leader; 57.8 per cent of survey respondents reported customers seeking to sell them counterfeit gold PAMP bars and 36.1 per cent reported encountering fakes of Australia’s Perth Mint gold bars.

She noted it’s illegal to possess, buy or sell counterfeits and added most dealers refuse to knowingly purchase fakes.

“Dealers tell us they often encounter people who have unknowingly purchased fake coins or bars via the internet or from flea markets thinking they have gotten a bargain because the price they paid is a fraction of the market value of the real items. When they attempt to sell their ‘bargains’ to dealers they learn there is no Santa Claus in numismatics. Their fakes are worthless.”

According to the survey, 92.4 per cent of the dealer respondents said they rely on their personal knowledge of coins and bars to identify fakes and 60.6 per cent use counterfeit detecting equipment to verify their suspicions.

Some 41.4 percent report having completed counterfeit detection classes with the remainder having attended seminars or educational presentations detailing deceptive counterfeits in the marketplace.

More than 80 per cent of the survey participants noted an increase in the number of counterfeit coins and bars entering the marketplace during the past five years. Had the counterfeits they encountered in the past year been genuine, more than 50 per cent of the respondents placed the value between $5,000 and $300,000; 28.8 per cent estimated the value between $1,000 and $5,000; and 8.4 per cent estimated the value at more than $300,000.

More than 68 per cent of respondents reported encountering counterfeits sporadically over weeks and months while 9.2 per cent reported being offered them two to three times a week and 1.9 per cent being offered them daily.

Deisher emphasized buyers can best protect themselves from counterfeits by purchasing from knowledgeable, reputable dealers and directly from the government or private Mints that manufacture the coins and bars.

The online survey of dealer members of the ICTA, the Professional Numismatist Guild and the American Numismatic Association was developed and conducted this June by the research work group of ICTA’s ACTF.

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