Counterfeit Alert

Counterfeit Alert will post images and information about counterfeits reported to us in order to alert the buying public. If you have information about a counterfeit coin, bar, holder or paper money that you'd like to report, please submit a Counterfeit Report Form.


Fake 2011-W American Buffalo 1-ounce .9999 gold bullion coin in fake NGC holder

February 13, 2019

The 2011-W American Buffalo 1-ounce .9999 gold bullion coin appears to be a favorite target of counterfeiters. Counterfeits of the gold bullion coin as well as grading service holders are known.

It pays to know the design features of the genuine coin. If you don’t have access to a genuine example of the coin being offered to you, check online at auction site archives for images of both the obverse and reverse of the genuine coin.

On the obverse of a genuine 2011-W American Buffalo 1-ounce .9999 gold bullion coin, inspect the features of the Indian’s face and hair details. The genuine Indian’s chin and jaw line are thicker than the counterfeit. And there are many more hair details in the Indian’s hair on the counterfeit than on the genuine coin.  The most striking diagnostic on the reverse of the counterfeit is much more detail in the hair on the  bison’s head and shoulders.

If your coin is in a third-party grading service holder, always check to make sure the holder is genuine. For an NGC holder go to NGC's website to verify it. Enter the certification number on the label and the grade from the drop-down menu in the grade space. For coins graded since 2008, if the certification number and grade are correct, you will see images of the genuine obverse and reverse in the genuine NGC holder. The screen will also show the current value from NGC’s Price Guide, the Total Graded by NGC for the grade, and a link to research the coin in NGC’s Coin Explorer.

Sometimes counterfeiters use the correct certification number for the coin, which they have obtained from a genuine coin label. If you find the certification number to be correct, but that the images of the coin point to it being counterfeit and possibly the holder being counterfeit, contact NGC immediately and report. Once confirmed, NGC will post the message POSSIBLE COUNTERFEIT HOLDER under the heading NGC Grade.

Counterfeit NGC holders containing counterfeit 2011-W American Buffalo 1-ounce .9999 gold bullion coins, graded Proof 70 Ultra Cameo, present telltale clues. Again, having a genuine NGC holder for comparison helps to identify the fakes. On the counterfeit, the label printing is off. Also, the "yellow" scales in the top left label background are too vibrant on the fake holder. NGC uses a special UV-reactive ink. The hologram used on the fake holder is a sticker that can be peeled off; NGC’s genuine hologram is higher quality and heat fused to the holder.


Fake 1795 Off-Center Draped Bust Dollar

February 1, 2019

Whether buying online or in person, inspect the item (coin, bar, or grading service holder) for obvious diagnostics that depart from genuine items. The first big tip-off for this fake is the holder in which it is encased.

It appears to be in a tampered-with NGC holder with the PCGS insert/label applied. A genuine PCGS holder is clear plastic, without the large white gasket around the coin (PCGS gaskets are clear). Additionally, a PCGS spokesman notes that “PCGS does not use, nor has it ever used any sort of “sticker” to wrap around the case. In this instance there appears to be a ‘Certificate’ sticker applied to the right side of the holder – I know of no reputable third-party grading service that uses that sort of security.”

All PCGS holders have the PCGS logo engraved in the lower-right corner of the plastic (on both the front and back of the holder). In this case it appears to have the letters “PCCB” in the white (not-clear) plastic.

(If you are not familiar with the genuine holders used by the various third-party grading services, we suggest you visit their websites or check Prices Realized at numismatic auction house websites to familiarize yourself with the details of the holders.)

If you check the Cert Verification number at the PCGS website, you will find the number listed on the insert label is a correct number for a 1795 Off Center Draped Bust dollar graded XF-45. The counterfeiters have copied the number from a genuine holder and placed it on a fake insert. The coin in the holder does not meet the diagnostics of a genuine 1795 Off Center Draped Bust dollar as shown in the PCGS CoinFacts.

This is a dangerous, new generation of a counterfeit coin in a fake holder.