Among the dealer community, frequent comments occur about how the counterfeiters, usually in China, are improving their techniques making it imperative that dealers be always on guard for the counterfeit coins.
The good news is the dealers educate each other and can still identify the counterfeit coins. The bad news is if you are a collector, and perhaps are not as familiar with the issues, you could easily be scammed on ebay or other sources.
In one counterfeit scenario, the counterfeiters started making AU (Almost Uncirculated) coins. They probably thought an AU coin would not raise as much suspicion and be easier to proliferate among the collector community. But, though they could make the obverse and reverse in AU condition, the rim wear did not match – too perfect for the other fake wear on the coin.
In another situation, the counterfeit coin in a PCGS holder appeared real, however the obverse and reverse did not match. Yes, they were from the same type of coin, but when reviewed closely, the unique details on the obverse did not match the unique details on the reverse. Now, did someone cut two “bad” coins and meld them together to make the one good one? Or, did someone use two different coins to counterfeit the front and back dies for the fake? If the second scenario, there could be other coins with this same problem. Oh, as for the PCGS holder, it was fake as well, but it could certainly fool the unsuspecting.
These examples are not meant to scare anyone. In any situation, you need to be alert to scams and scam artists. It’s amazing how much effort and time the scam artists apply to defrauding people when they could make an honest living with less effort and risk. But, our biggest threat still comes from China. They do not view counterfeiting collectible coins as a crime.
If you are an experienced and passionate collector, you know your coins. With the counterfeiters improving their techniques, you need to be more alert to potential problems. Even the experienced can be taken by the con artist if you are not always careful. That also means you need to be alert when buying from trusted sources. They are fallible and could be victims as well.
If you are a new collector, do your homework and ask questions of experienced people. Numismatics continues to be rewarding in many ways.