Will photographs of graded coins defeat counterfeiters?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Gam3rBlake, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    Lately I’ve been reading about Chinese coin counterfeiting. It seems like a problem everyone wants gone but whenever one anti-counterfeiting method is implemented the counterfeiters find a way to beat it.

    They are getting so good that they are even counterfeiting PCGS & NGC holders so accurately that most people would see them and think they were authentic.

    I know that PCGS already takes photos of coins. I don’t know if it’s a paid thing or if they do it automatically.

    Yet there are also a huge number of coins that have been graded yet do not have photos.

    Imagine how difficult it would be for counterfeiters to sell fake graded coins if every graded coin was photographed!

    Every coin (even of the same type) is unique. They all have unique dings & scratches and toning and many other variables.

    I don’t think there is any way counterfeiters could make fakes so good that they matched the coin in the pictures and thus if someone saw a PCGS or NGC slabbed coins they could instantly determine if it’s real or not by quickly looking up the cert # and seeing if the coin in the picture matches the coin in front of them.

    Does anyone else think a large majority of counterfeiters could be put out of business if both PCGS & NGC took high quality photos of every single coin they graded?
    Cheech9712 and GoldFinger1969 like this.
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  3. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    NGC and PCGS already do take photos of every coin they grade, and they've been doing so for well over 10 years. And yes, the idea was to quickly see if something is a counterfeit, altered slab, or some other problem.

    And no, it hasn't put the counterfeiters out of business.
  4. ToughCOINS

    ToughCOINS Dealer Member Moderator

    The problem is that those offering the counterfeits for sale can still shoot and post blurry photos of corresponding coins and holders for which PCGS / NGC have posted good images.

    China is the biggest problem but, if they cracked down, the source of counterfeiting would simply change to the next nation that delivers the highest ratio of reward to risk. I think as long as counterfeiting is punishable only with a relative slap on the wrist, it will continue unabated.

    Now, if all governments would enforce and impose the same penalties for counterfeiting of any kind that they do for counterfeiting their currency, and for government officials facilitating it by accepting bribes / looking the other way, I guarantee we'd see a substantial decrease!
  5. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    The larger issue at hand is that the largest market for counterfeiters is the casual collector. The guy that may purchase a coin for his grandkids graduation gift or something. He isn’t aware of TPG verification, counterfeit detection, die markers or anything of the like. He feels that purchasing a slabbed and verified coin is his safety mechanism. Those are the counterfeiters real target.
  6. Dave Waterstraat

    Dave Waterstraat dave700x -1883 O nut

    The problem is there are far too many under educated collectors out there. Another site I belong to has the banner "Education is the key to collector success!"
  7. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Randy and Dave have hit the nail. The problem is Education.
  8. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    My Neice was in NYC years ago and came home with a brand new bargain Rolex Ladies Watch she bought from a hustler. I need only write one word, quartz.
    GoldFinger1969 and MIGuy like this.
  9. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector Supporter

    The only thing that will stop counterfeits is education.
  10. Mammothtooth

    Mammothtooth Stand up Philosopher, Vodka Taster

    Lopping off a hand works at least twice.
  11. Phil's Coins

    Phil's Coins Well-Known Member

    I will sit back and HOLD MY BREATH while we try and get ANY government to do something about the counterfeit coins.
    Semper Fi
    Inspector43 likes this.
  12. Jeffjay

    Jeffjay Well-Known Member

    In China the penalty for counterfeiting Chinese money is a minimum of three years to life. The most egregious offenders have even been executed.
    However they have no problem with people counterfeiting other countries money. They actually encourage it and give Awards to people who produce the finest counterfeits.
    What I would like to see is somebody set up a database of known fakes.
    GoldFinger1969 and MIGuy like this.
  13. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Yeah they do, or at least some of them do. Consider the higher grades though, most of them have few if any marks. So what are you going to be taking pictures of ?

    Then consider this, take a pic with given lighting and from a given angle. That pic will show marks. Now take another pic, change the angle and or lighting just 1 or 2 degrees, and some and maybe all of those marks simply disappear - without any post alteration or manipulation of the picture. Or, do the same thing and the color changes completely to the point that it looks like 2 different coins. Like this -

    1911_Proof_half_crown_obv 1.jpg 1911_Proof_half_crown_rev 1.jpg

    1911_Proof_half_crown_obv.jpg 1911_Proof_half_crown_rev.jpg

    Exact same coin, both sets of pics. And the only that was changed was the angle of lights by 1/4 of an inch.

    My point is pictures prove nothing, and no picture can show you everything there is to see - it's simply not possible.
  14. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    If your not willing to stop the source, all the education on earth will not win you the war. Does the drug war mean anything to you! Just my opinion, thanks for the post.
    Jeffjay likes this.
  15. Jeffjay

    Jeffjay Well-Known Member

    Unrelated to the subject but beautiful coin.
    Magnus87 likes this.
  16. 1865King

    1865King Well-Known Member

    Where they need to get stopped is by Customs or the US Postal Service and other delivery carriers. I can understand some getting by but, these people don't care. On Facebook it has gotten so bad that they sell under multiple names at the same time. The kicker is Facebook doesn't appear to give a crap. They sensor peoples views if they don't like them but, allow these Chinese scammers do what ever they want.
    GoldFinger1969 and atcarroll like this.
  17. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    Problem here is Customs and the Postal Service does not open every package. They have no idea what's inside. They move the package from Shanghai to LA, and we hope it's as quick as can be.

    They also couldn't tell a counterfeit from a Pog. They aren't trained for that, and that's not their job.
    ldhair and John Skelton like this.
  18. Publius2

    Publius2 Well-Known Member

    As every security expert will tell you, all defenses should be layered since no single defense will adequately perform the job. So, how do you layer your personal defenses against coin and slab counterfeiting?

    1) Educate yourself on coins and slabs;
    2) Buy only slabbed coins above some personally determined dollar amount, or;
    3) Use some other criteria for reducing your risk such as "Never buy a key or semi-key date unslabbed".
    4) Buy only from your personally vetted dealers and sources and also those recommended by your knowledgeable and experienced friends and associates. That would not include eBay reviews. These resources are the best way to leverage your own knowledge and close the gaps in your knowledge.
    5) As with almost everything else in life, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is." Your greed (and we all suffer from it) is the scammer's tool used against you.
    6) In the same vein as #5, you should know what coins are worth and avoid the trap of pursuing a "good deal" at the expense of good sense. This falls into the category of having to pay to play. I'm not saying not to cherry-pick - see #1.

    There's nothing I've listed here that you probably have not seen before. The idea is to avoid what industrial safety experts call the "swiss cheese" problem. If you hold up one piece of cheese, you can look through the holes. If you line up two slices, there is a reduced chance of being able to see through both slices. By the time you've lined up 3 or 4 slices, the odds of having a hole all the way through are pretty small. Do that with your defenses against coin fakes and counterfeiters.
    GoldFinger1969, wrexx and MIGuy like this.
  19. MIGuy

    MIGuy Supporter! Supporter

    The easiest way to tell a real Rolex is to crack the back (which you then need to have resealed by a qualified Rolex tech to guarantee water rating) with a decent set of swiss wrenches (like Bergeon) and then to closely closely examine the movement under magnification (and the dial, hands, date wheel, crown, crystal, etc) to make sure it's not a fake, or, sometimes more difficult to spot - it has the wrong Rolex parts or fake ones - a Frankenwatch. You need to have some experience in order to do this.

    In other words, it's not easy to spot a fake Rolex. I've always found it easier to spot fake coins (or so I think, hahaha!). If anyone has photos of a counterfeit slab that looks real, I'd be very curious to see it, know what it weighs, any background, etc. I do trust slabbed / graded coins by ICG, ANACS, PCGS and NGC, I also trust certain sellers with regard to raw coins, and sometimes I feel okay taking a chance on a purchase that isn't too major, like a couple rolls of old quarters, or an old album with some coins in it, if the seller appears legit - of course I take a good look at my purchases - have the scale and magnet handy, along with the loupe. As a general rule, given what I collect, I only buy in North America and the UK.
  20. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    As with anything, some fakes are much easier to spot than others. Sure, the best Rolex fakes might require opening it up and looking inside, but there are plenty of others that you could spot from the other side of the room.

    Same with coins. There are some that are really, really good fakes and luckily we have a few guys here who are actively tracking them. But there are tons of fakes that I can spot from a hundred yards. Same with slabs - there's some good ones, and there's some bad ones.
  21. MIGuy

    MIGuy Supporter! Supporter

    That's an excellent point - mentally I was imagining a counterfeit PCGS slab that was good enough to pass a superficial once over by someone with some experience and expertise - I nearly spent several thousand dollars on a vintage Rolex - the price was slightly too good to believe, but within the realm of possibility, so I asked for better pictures of the movement and / or for inspection at my expense at a local watchmaker / jeweler (I believe they were in Chicago) - better pictures of the movement, grudgingly provided, showed that they were using some non-Rolex gears and such, though the bones of the movement were correct - but that's a difference that means a lot - is it an original Shelby Cobra with matching serial numbers / VINS or is it a restoration with a new Mustang engine? That's sort of the question. I have a hard time imagining a counterfeit PCGS or NGC slab with a counterfeit coin that would pass muster in this forum.
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