December, 2017

U.S. Mint said to be lax on combating counterfeit coins from China

Original article: Coin World

The U.S. Mint is not pursuing a vigorous anti-counterfeiting strategy, according to a prominent coin industry association. In a December statement, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets’ Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ICTA) said that the U.S. Mint's efforts to combat a growing influx of fake U.S. coins - primarily from China - "do not reflect a serious commitment to act against this threat." 


Chinese counterfeiters have been active in the U.S. numismatic market since about 2008. They began with 18th and 19th-century coins, but have moved into circulating bullion coins: the American Eagle gold $50, the gold American Buffalo $50 and silver $1 bullion coins. 

Industry associations say that the U.S. Mint has been slow to respond to the threat. Recent pressure from Congress has yet to bear fruit. 

The ICTA has several recommendations for the U.S. Mint. The first is to register U.S. Mint products with Customs and Border Patrol - to ensure that the agency can seize counterfeits before they enter the country. 

Secondly, the ICTA urges the U.S. Mint to improve anti-counterfeiting technology in American coins. In this area, the U.S. lags behind many other nations - including its northern neighbor Canada. 

Canada's Royal Mint developed embedded anti-counterfeiting technology featuring a micro-engraved mark on gold and silver coins which is also laser-engraved on the dies used to strike the coins. Images of the mark are stored in a database. When one of the coins is placed in a special gadget (called the Bullion DNA device), it "communicates with the Mint’s secure servers to decode the encrypted signature and search for a match registered during coin production," according to Coin World. 

Couldn't the US develop similar technology? Perhaps - but observers say that the U.S. Mint believes the Secret Service should be responsible for safeguarding American coinage from counterfeiters, so the Mint has taken little action thus far.