In recent days, counterfeit coins in counterfeit PCGS slabs have begun to appear on eBay, the online auction site. All of the counterfeit coins/holders seen so far are coming out of China. Alert members of the PCGS Message Boards were the first to notify PCGS of the counterfeit coins/holders.
The coins themselves range from poor-quality counterfeits to well-made fakes. The counterfeit PCGS holders are well-executed, but with minor differences from a genuine holder. PCGS anticipates that authentic coins will eventually be placed into counterfeit PCGS holders in the future, perhaps with elevated grades and/or inappropriate designators (Full Bell Lines, Prooflike, etc.), although none have been seen to date.
The on-line PCGS Certificate Verification is a method for confirming that a particular certificate number matches the information in the PCGS database, but the counterfeiters are aware of this detection method and are now using valid certificate numbers (see below).
PCGS has contacted U.S. governmental agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Customs, the Secret Service, and US Postal authorities, to enlist their assistance in pursuing enforcement or legal remedies against these counterfeiters. Also, PCGS is a member of eBay's CCW Group, which monitors eBay for fraudulent listings and asks eBay to discontinue auctions of suspicious coins and/or suspend violators.
PCGS has called for eBay to stop accepting listings of any rare coins from Chinese sellers. Ebay recently pulled several auctions of counterfeit coins/holders at the urging of PCGS.
PCGS urges consumers not to purchase rare coins from Chinese sellers on eBay. While legitimate, authentic coins exist in China, the plethora of fakes and fraudulent listings on eBay increase the likelihood that coins purchased from Chinese sellers will be counterfeit.
The PCGS Guarantees of Grade and Authenticity do not apply to counterfeit holders, but PCGS has a strong interest in assisting consumers in actions against any fraudulent sellers.
Sufficient differences exist between genuine and counterfeit holders such that PCGS experts can easily identify fake holders. Consumers are cautioned that coins that appear to be underpriced may be counterfeit. PCGS urges all consumers to deal only with reputable sellers who are willing to stand behind the coins they sell.
PCGS recommends consumers consider the following any time they make a coin purchase:
Verify the certificate number using the PCGS Cert Verification program at http://www.pcgs.com/cert/
See limitations above
Avoid purchasing rare coins from eBay sellers in China.
Investigate the legitimacy of the seller (examine feedback; avoid low feedback sellers; find out how long the seller has been in business; do they have a good reputation?; do you have legal recourse in case of a problem?).
Make sure you have a money-back guarantee that is enforceable (for example, credit card companies will often assist in cases of fraud).
Realize that "bargains" in numismatics are usually too good to be true.
If you have a question about a particular coin, be sure to have it checked out by an Authorized PCGS Dealer or by PCGS before the expiration of any guarantees.
Request an immediate refund if the coin you purchased turns out to be a counterfeit.
The following list of coins and certificate numbers have been seen in fake PCGS holders:
China (1916) Silver Dollar, Y-332, Cert #10712316 (valid)
China (1923) Silver Dollar, K-677, Cert #11354470 (valid)
China (1923) Silver Dollar, K-678, Cert #11285683 (valid)
China (1923) Silver Dollar, Y-336.1, Cert #13835186 (valid)
China Republic (1912) 20 Cents, Cert #21981173 (invalid)
China (1916) Gold Dollar, Pn-44, Cert # 11072163 (invalid)