The big news coverage lately has centered on President Donald Trump raising tariffs on China, but that isn’t the whole story. He isn’t just concerned about our trade deficits with China. President Trump is even more concerned about China’s product piracy and counterfeiting. If you ever walk down a street in China as a tourist, you will find merchants selling “Disney” or “Apple” or “Coke” products that have no relation to the brand. These are fake products with a fake company label. Most Americas can see through this sham, but few see through the counterfeit products that the Chinese now ship overseas for sale via the Internet.
Craig Crosby, founder of The Counterfeit Report, has detected millions of knockoffs on eBay and Alibaba and 32,000 counterfeits on Amazon. Apple reported that 90% of all “Apple” products they purchased from Amazon were counterfeit. Counterfeiting is now the largest criminal enterprise in the world, netting $1.7 trillion per year, greater than illicit drugs or human trafficking. The volume is expected to grow to $2.8 trillion and cost 5.4 million jobs by 2022, and China produces 80% of these counterfeits. The Chinese also steal the technology of many U.S. companies doing business there, with impunity – until now. President Trump is the first U.S. leader to strongly strike back.
And Now, China’s Counterfeiting Empire Has Expanded into Fake Coins
The Chinese have now moved in a massive way into counterfeiting gold and silver bullion and rare coins and even circulating coins. The Chinese are producing fake coins by the millions and shipping them all over the world. In the past, some of these fakes were obvious fakes. For instance, they made wrong obverse and reverse pairs for a series.
Lately, however, Chinese forgers have become more skilled. Their favorite target is the most widely-held coin series. For bullion coins, the American Eagle series is their favorite target. According to a new survey by the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF), of which I am a member, nearly half (43.3%) of surveyed coin dealers said that some customers had tried to sell them counterfeit silver American Eagle bullion coins, while 41.2% reported customers trying to sell them fake gold American Eagle coins.
The ACTF has determined that these counterfeits primarily come from China and they “target the most popular products, usually market leaders with the highest brand identification.” When it comes to fake bullion bars and ingots, over half (57.8%) of dealers reported customers trying to sell them fake PAMP (Suisse) gold ingots or bars, using fake versions of the original packaging.
Among collectible classic U.S. coins, Morgan silver dollars were the most frequently counterfeited coins (reported by 71.7% of dealers), followed by Trade dollars (66.6%) and Seated Liberty dollars (48.6%). The most frequently counterfeited rare U.S. gold coins were the $2.50 (42.1%) and $5.00 gold (36.2%).
Some of the easiest “tells” on fake coins is that they have a bogus weight. The biggest giveaway, however, is the asking price. Fake coins are usually sold at very low “bargain” prices. In Asia, fake gold and silver dollars are often peddled at flea markets in Hong Kong and mainland China for $1 to $3 each. Over the Internet, if you see a price that is “too good to be true,” it is indeed too good to be true.
When you buy or sell coins, deal with experts who know how to spot counterfeits and how to validate the quality and grading of the coins they buy and sell. Go to their website and check their credentials.