The bogus Stella was housed in a counterfeit Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) holder with a fake insert label printed with the same NGC PR63 grade and certification number as the genuine coin.
Davis, a former Texas Police Chief, alerted the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) and is assisting investigators in this case.
“We were alerted to this case by Ryan Moretti of Orange County California, the senior numismatist of Colorado-based American Rarities. He was contacted by an individual offering to sell several expensive coins allegedly in NGC holders, including the 1879 Coiled Hair $4 Stella, of which only about dozen genuine examples are known,” said Davis.
The other counterfeit coins offered by the seller were a 1793 AMERICA Chain cent, NGC VF20, an 1800 Draped Bust dollar, NGC AU58, and an 1871-CC Seated Liberty dollar, NGC AU55.
When he received the coins, Moretti suspected that they and the NGC holders were counterfeit based on his years of experience as a professional numismatist. The suspicions were confirmed after inspection by other numismatic experts, including NGC representatives.
“When we entered the suspect’s name into the ACTF crime and intelligence database, it linked him to another case in which he reportedly attempted to sell counterfeit coins to a Minnesota dealer in December 2019. ACTF alerted agents with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and U.S. Treasury OIG. Those coins were seized, and a joint investigation is currently continuing,” explained Davis.
Federal and local investigators are reviewing both the Minnesota and California cases to determine appropriate jurisdiction to initiate prosecution against the suspect for possession and distribution of counterfeits with the intent to defraud.
“Well-made fakes are flooding the U.S. marketplace and the integrity of the numismatic community is under attack. These recent cases spotlight the significant technological advancements of counterfeiters and their agents as well as the all-too-easy availability for the sale of fake coins and precious metals housed in counterfeit third-party authentication and grading holders,” Davis cautioned.
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Q. David Bowers
GREAT COIN HOBBY PROMOTER
PCGS SOLD, NEW COIN DESIGNS, SOARING SILVER
In November, the news was that an investor group led by American billionaire hedge fund manager and majority owner of the New York Mets Steven A. Cohen and collector Nat Turner plan to acquire Collectors Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT) for about $700 million.
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