Legitimate mint caught producing counterfeit coins, made $5 million in fake currency each year

Let me put the word ‘legitimate’ in quotes. Counterfeit coins is a big industry. I am a coin collector myself, and I am always checking any coin I buy. Specially if it contains gold or silver. Another thing I learned from collecting is that most non-government mints are a rip off and cut quality.

Recently, a mint that produced real coins used its technology and machines to produce counterfeit £1 coins. They produced a estimated 4 million of these coins each year. With the USD-EUR exchange rate, that is around $5 million a year. They have been doing this since 2006. Almost hit the 10 year in business mark there.

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One industry source said: “This [counterfeiting] operation has been going on since at least 2006 and it is estimated that they have been producing around £4m worth of £1 coins each year, if not more. This is certainly the biggest operation the UK has seen, both in terms of scale and sophistication.”

Dutch police are understood to have found machinery capable of producing the master dyes used to make £1 coins, something that has never been seen before in UK forgeries. Police have been stunned at the sophistication of the ECM, which is understood to have had copies of most UK £1 coins and which industry sources said matched the sophistication of the Royal Mint.

In November last year, a Royal Mint survey found that the rate of counterfeit UK £1 coins in circulation had risen from 2.74 per cent to more than 3 per cent. The Dutch authorities have been severely embarrassed by the revelation of a major counterfeit coin operation that went undetected for so long. Because ECM was supposedly a legitimate mint company, it was entitled to use the sophisticated coin-producing machines.

Be wary of any coins you buy. You should always check. One of my friends operates a coin store online, and he has to deal with counterfeits all time. Small time suppliers try to put a few counterfeit coins in a large order, ancient coins from the Roman times turn out to be fake, etc. You have to worry about tungsten in gold coins and bars. If you are buying a coin, try to buy from a company that grades them and gives out a serial number so you can tell if it real or not. Learn the difference between a real coin and a fake one. This also increases your knowledge of coins and how they are made.

Ever bought a fake coin? Leave a comment below detailing your experience.

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