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Topic: Important information for people using and/or selling unmarked replicas of U.S. coins.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 28, 2010 08:19PM)
From the US Treasury department web site:

http://208.45.143.104/consumer/?action=hotItems#bmImitation1950

Imitation Pre-1950 Coinage
1921 Morgan Silver dollar

The United States Mint is aware of recent reports that some companies in China are producing unmarked imitations of pre-1950 United States coins and are selling them on-line. This practice not only exploits unwary consumers and collectors, but also may violate Federal law. Both consumers and coin collectors should be aware of this practice and should exercise vigilance and good judgment when purchasing pre-1950 coins.

The Hobby Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 2101–2106) outlaws manufacturing or importing imitation numismatic items unless they are marked in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Specifically, any such imitation numismatic item intended to be introduced or distributed in commerce must be plainly and permanently marked "copy." To read the FTC's 1998 Consumer Alert on Investing in Rare Coins, visit the Better Business Bureau's webpage, http://www.bbb.org/us/article/4740.

In addition, these imitation coins may violate Federal counterfeiting laws (18 U.S.C. §§ 485, 489 & 490). The United States Mint has no Federal criminal enforcement authority. Rather, it refers such matters to the United States Secret Service, which is lawfully authorized to detect and arrest any person who violates any Federal law relating to United States coinage (18 U.S.C. § 3056(b)(2)). For more information on counterfeit coins, visit the United States Secret Service's webpage, http://www.treas.gov/usss/money_coins.shtml.
Message: Posted by: Sammy J. (Mar 28, 2010 08:44PM)
Great information, Bill. I have always wondered about this when I see these for sale.

Thanks,
Sammy
Message: Posted by: lorenwade (Mar 28, 2010 10:18PM)
I've always been aware of those coins. They're only $2 shipped to your door on eBay. ;) Anyway, they always show "replica" and "copy" stamped on the coin in the picture, but when you get them... they're not marked at all.

Thanks for sharing.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 28, 2010 10:26PM)
The real problem is that Morgan Dollars and Peace Dollars are still legal tender.

This is called "counterfeiting."
Message: Posted by: lorenwade (Mar 28, 2010 10:34PM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-28 23:26, Bill Palmer wrote:
The real problem is that Morgan Dollars and Peace Dollars are still legal tender.

This is called "counterfeiting."
[/quote]

Yep!
Message: Posted by: motown (Mar 28, 2010 11:17PM)
The ways things are going, I won't be surprised to see our goverment source out is minting to the Chinese the way everything else is.
Message: Posted by: lorenwade (Mar 28, 2010 11:41PM)
I actually don't know where to find these replicas WITH the copy/replica stamp.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 28, 2010 11:43PM)
One thing to bear in mind when you get the idea of purchasing fake Morgan Dollars is this: a genuine Morgan dollar will cost you around $20 to $40 depending on the condition. A counterfeit Morgan will cost you about $2 to $5...until you try to sell one to someone with the Secret Service. Then it will cost you your job, your house, your car, all of your magic gear and a whole lot more. If they decide to get really stinky, they can bust you for owning one.

Now, some people may think, "I have a cousin who is an attorney. He could get me out of this mess." Are you sure? Do you know someone who is qualified to handle a counterfeiting case in front of a federal judge? Of course, this is penny ante counterfeiting considering the megacounterfeiting work that is going on in China. But if they decide they want to stop it, they go to the first place they see one, then they go up the chain until they find the importer.

Even if you are not prosecuted, but you are arraigned and have to spend the night in the hoosegow, it's still not going to be the most pleasant experience you have ever had. You might run into some real scumbag like Charles Manson, or worse, Bernie Madoff!
Message: Posted by: Calvin Tong (Mar 29, 2010 03:09AM)
I wonder how much resources the Federal Government has to chase down these non-compliances?
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 29, 2010 03:27AM)
It all depends on the number of complaints they get and the number of the coins that come into the country. If a large group of coin dealers complains that they have been getting a huge number of counterfeits, then they will go after the non-compliances.

Counterfeiting is handled by the Secret Service. When I was working in night clubs, I remember one evening when we had 5 counterfeit 20 dollar bills show up. Our assistant manager called the US Treasury Department night number. A couple of hours later, a fellow from the Secret Service showed up and looked through the money that had been taken in that evening. He gave our assistant manager the info that he needed to get the proper things done. As he left, he said, "These bills came from a group that we have been tracking down for about a year. There are only three Secret Service agents permanently stationed here. The other two are in San Antonio chasing the guys that passed these bogus bills."

Counterfeit money is one of the most insidious forms of terrorism in the modern world. It doesn't matter whether it is metallic money, paper money or even gold bullion, if the coins are not compliant, it becomes a combination of fraud and counterfeiting. The fraud may not occur on the first sale, but if someone gets the coin and thinks it's the real thing because it isn't marked, then they become the victim of fraud.

There are supposedly people who are taking advantage of the fact that tungsten and gold have densities that are almost identical. There is a big difference in the price, though. Creating a gold bar from tungsten, gold plating it and selling it as genuine gold is a federal violation under the same part of the law as the counterfeit coins.
Message: Posted by: Strange Tasting Fish Sticks (Mar 30, 2010 12:55AM)
Bill Palmer, funny you should mention this. I am also a numismatist and I specialize in counterfeit gold coins. I'm also of course a magician and do (ironically enough) coin magic. Many gold coins were counterfeited in the middle east, they use real gold (not tungsten), the right fineness, the right weight, details, etc. They look *** good like the real thing too. They cranked them out in the millions. Gold was cheaper there. That's why you never buy US Gold through ebay. It's like trying to play russian roulette. Counterfeinting is becoming a real problem. The chinese have gotten creative. They will like you say, say it has copy on it but when you get it it doesn't. Of course if you order a $2 morgan they are not silver. They use a base metal like tin.

You may not be aware of this, but there are things called "slabs." These are plastic professional cases in which coins are sonically sealed with a numerical grade (PO1 or poor 1 to MS70 or mint state 70). If they are problem coins (i.e cleaned, AT, damaged) they will come back in a genuine holder at PCGS and a Details holder at NGC. Those are the top 2 third party grading service. For a fee, they will "slab" or encapsule your coin, professional authenticators and graders will grade it and authenticate it, and send it back in the case. They get 99% of the fakes. They are *** good. And they grade very good too. The grade is the condition of the coin. It is like an art, grading is an art, so it is very subjective, but with practice most experts can agree, most times on a grade, or close.

Well back to my point. What the chinese are doing now is counterfeiting the SLABS! Yes, they make their own slabs, copy the hologram and everything, and insert fake coins. The way to detect this? Right now, it is to spot the poorly fakes coin inside, which is easy. But the fakes are getting better. The TPG's are releasing better counterfeit measures to fix this. There is another service called "CAC", Certified Acceptence Corporance and they basiclaly for a fee, review the slab, and if they agree its "solid" for the grade (Meaning its not in the lower end of the grade) put a sticker on it. If it's undergraded (very rare) , it gets a gold sticker. This means if you cracked it out and sent it back to a TPG like PCGS or NGC it would most likely get graded higher, and be worth more money. These are rare.
Message: Posted by: Mb217 (Mar 30, 2010 06:17AM)
I have some of these too, nice substitutes for real Morgans and to tell you the truth, I still recommend them as specs know no difference and they are indeed much cheaper than real ones, and I'm sure only used for magic purposes amongst magicians that have them. China does good/cheaper work, maybe that's why we're so indebted to them, that old "free market" thing we live by. :D I bet they could make replica soft coins as well. They should check into that as there's a real market for it amongst magicians. I bet they'd do a great job, counterfeitingly speaking that is. :D And who knows, with these replicas perhaps they are just trying to get some of their money back from us at a better rate of return. :D
Message: Posted by: Wes65 (Mar 30, 2010 08:05PM)
I have some metal replica Morgan dollars made by Joe Mogar. I bought these to use with a holdout. Although these coins look great, any coin dealer (or magician who uses silver dollars) would quickly know that these are not silver.

Does anyone know the status of these coin?
Message: Posted by: Calvin Tong (Mar 30, 2010 09:02PM)
I agree that one would want to avoid any sticky situations.

I was on grand jury (as a jury member) for a full year reviewing cases like this. I am not an expert, but I recall that the Assistant DA was constantly coaching us to focus on understanding the intent to manufacture and the intent to commit fraud. It is not just about the possession in itself. Otherwise, all those bar owners will be arrested as well. The question is, do you get in trouble for buying a counterfeit? Again, I am not an expert, but the fact would be that you purchased a counterfeit without the intent to commit fraud. You are a magician and your intent is to perform magic with these props. Here is where we allow the lawyers to take over the thread. :o)

Wes65, what you probably have is not manufactured by Joe. Joe carries a lot of magic props from other manufacturers in addition to what he manufacturers. :o)
Message: Posted by: Strange Tasting Fish Sticks (Mar 30, 2010 09:03PM)
As long as they have replica stamped on them, they are legal.
Message: Posted by: Wes65 (Mar 30, 2010 09:23PM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-30 22:03, Strange Tasting Fish Sticks wrote:
As long as they have replica stamped on them, they are legal.
[/quote]

No, they are identical to the Morgan's.
Message: Posted by: Calvin Tong (Mar 30, 2010 09:36PM)
Yes, there seems to be much information about the "legal" status of a counterfeit as well as the "outlaw" of importing and manfucturing of such items.

The question to ask legal counsel (and I would assume that many other magicians would want to know) is about posession of such item without the intent to commit fraud. I do not own one of these items, but it would be interesting to hear a lawyers perspective.

:o)
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 31, 2010 03:32PM)
The ones that are stamped copy or replica are legal. You should have no problem with them.
Message: Posted by: jmagic (Mar 31, 2010 05:41PM)
Important legal information that is well known by most everyone. It is illegal to deface US money.This means all of the following actions are illegal:
Marking a bill with a pen
Drilling a hole in a coin
Making a shell
Making a folding coin
Making a copper/silver coin
etc,etc,etc
All of the above and anything like could result in fines and a jail term.
What shall we do now??
Message: Posted by: truesoldier (Mar 31, 2010 06:21PM)
Could the same be considered for gaffs such as coin unique etc.. Just A Thought
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Mar 31, 2010 07:20PM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-31 18:41, jmagic wrote:
Important legal information that is well known by most everyone. It is illegal to deface US money.This means all of the following actions are illegal:
Marking a bill with a pen
Drilling a hole in a coin
Making a shell
Making a folding coin
Making a copper/silver coin
etc,etc,etc
All of the above and anything like could result in fines and a jail term.
What shall we do now??
[/quote]

I'm sorry, but that is completely incorrect. It is only illegal to "deface US Money" if you do so [b]with the intent to defraud[/b]. None of the actions you mention above are illegal unless you are taking those actions as part of a scheme to cheat someone.

TW
Message: Posted by: jmagic (Mar 31, 2010 08:05PM)
You should check out the US code title 18, part 1, chapter 17 331 It says defacing is illegal. It says nothing about intent to defraud.
Message: Posted by: Mb217 (Mar 31, 2010 09:00PM)
Man, this is like To Tell The Truth, remember that old show. :D I like all this technical stuff as you never quite know who's retort is truer, and you just know most people here never even heard of "US code title 18, part 1, chapter 17 331." :D

But I bet the precisioned Thomas Wayne has. Scary stuff. :D
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Mar 31, 2010 09:00PM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-31 21:05, jmagic wrote:
You should check out the US code title 18, part 1, chapter 17 331 It says defacing is illegal. It says nothing about intent to defraud.
[/quote]

May YOU should check out that part of US Code... more carefully. There are two very different types of legal tender issued by the US Government - paper currency and metal coinage. Here is the language of Section 333 of that chapter, covering the potential [i]criminal[/i] aspect of "defacing" paper currency:

[quote]"Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or
unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill,
draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking
association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System,
with [b]intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence
of debt unfit to be reissued[/b], shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than six months, or both.[[i]emphasis added[/i]][/quote]

Intent under that statute is going to be very hard to prove, assuming you are not attempting some sort of fraud - such as cutting the corner indexes from a hundred-dollar bill and pasting them onto a one-dollar bill. It's unlikely your example of "[i]Marking a bill with a pen [/i]" would qualify for such intent, and I don't see anyone doing time for possessing a [i]Hundy 500[/i] setup.

However, the bulk of [i]your[/i] concerns address metal coins:

[quote]
On 2010-03-31 18:41, jmagic wrote:
[...] all of the following actions are illegal:
...
Drilling a hole in a coin
Making a shell
Making a folding coin
Making a copper/silver coin
etc,etc,etc
All of the above and anything like could result in fines and a jail term.
[/quote]

Coins - which is really the area that MOST magicians would be concerned with - are covered under a different section of the statute (Section 331, noted in your most recent post), which reads:

[quote]"Whoever [b]fraudulently[/b] alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes,
falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of
the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current
or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States;
or whoever [b]fraudulently[/b] possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or
sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into
the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered,
defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or
lightened shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
five years, or both."[[i]emphasis added[/i]][/quote]

The Law is often very precisely written, and must therefore often be very precisely read.

TW
Message: Posted by: Strange Tasting Fish Sticks (Apr 1, 2010 12:45AM)
Regarding the coin looking like a morgan, it doesn't matter as long as it has copy stamped on it. Several promnient collectors companies, crank out tons of replica coins for collectors. One of them is National Collectors Mint. You often times find their ads on TV. In fact I have an old "gold" coin from them that has copy stamped on it. It is a replica exactly of one of the gold coins that used to be minted early in the 1800's to late 1700's.

http://nationalcollectorsmint.com/product.jsp?path=-1|6897|1698&id=2526
http://nationalcollectorsmint.com/product.jsp?path=-1|6897|1698&id=10932
Message: Posted by: DaddyDoodle (Apr 1, 2010 01:34PM)
I don't see any reference to intent to defraud. It does mention creation and it does mention mutilates and it does mention defacing and it does mention possession. Just my $0.02...

...however, the term "fraudulently" DOES imply, by definition, the intent to defraud ([url=http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=define:fraudulently]Google search term "define:fraudulently")[/url].

Here's the code:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00000331----000-.html

Here's the text:
Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or
Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Message: Posted by: EventEntertainer (Apr 5, 2010 10:38AM)
Alright after serveral calls to the FTC, Treasury, US Mint and a visit to the local Secret Service field office (can't be too careful :) ), I talked with Alex at the Secret Service and got this:

Per 18 USC Section 485 it is ONLY illegal is you intend to fraud or pass the coin(s) as legitimate currency. There is NOTHING wrong with selling, buying or using these coins for magic tricks and other demonstrations.

I also called the FTC in regards to the Hobby Protection Act. Again it's OK...Just like any other prop (deck of cards, etc), this is a prop used in the normal course of business.

Hope this helps!
Message: Posted by: Mb217 (Apr 5, 2010 01:01PM)
Sure does, thank you. It's just about what I said or implied as to intent when used by magicians - much ado about nothing. Glad you spoke with Agent Alex :D and got the skinny on this a bit beyond the oft regurgitated rules & regulations meant mostly to combat the intent of bad guys. With all due respect, keep reading that stuff too much and you'll have everyone headed to the Big House under the sheer technicality of it all, sorta like the McCarthy era in his incessant hunt for communist amongst us, or something like that.... :D

Oh well, now I can go back to not worrying about something not worth worrying about under a more proper balance of what's what. :) Thanks again EE and thanks to all for their views and perspectives, but beware, T. Wayne lurks with the slide rule in hand. :)
Message: Posted by: DaddyDoodle (Apr 5, 2010 01:25PM)
I'm with Mb. It's more to the argument of interpretation. Yes, the letter says it's wrong; however, interpretation says the intent is to defraud. So, unless you go selling them on the Café as originals, then the Secret Service is pretty much unconcerned with you. Again, however, there's nothing saying another Joe McCarthy couldn't re-interpret it and start a witch hunt. I think I gave my $0.02 last post, so this will be my $0.03 worth. :)