1-800-822-8080 Contact Us

Read the Tuesday Afternoon Wrap-Up for 9/25/2012 and the Wednesday Morning Commentary for 9/26/2012

In November 2009, it was reported that 400-ounce gold bars filled with tungsten  – a near-worthless element with similar weight and density properties to gold – were discovered in Hong Kong.  Consequently, Precious Metal counterfeiting received its first dose of widespread media coverage…

Tungsten Filled Gold Bars In Asia

As no follow-up incidents were reported for nearly three years, the incident was largely forgotten by March 2012 – when a one kilogram (32-ounce) tungsten-salted bar was found in London…

Tungsten-Filled 1 Kilo Gold Bar Found In The UK

…gaining further traction this month, when not one

Tungsten-Filled 10 Oz Gold Bar Found In The Middle Of Manhattan’s Jewelry District

…but multiple 10- ounce counterfeits were discovered in Manhattan; again, filled with tungsten…

Gold Counterfeiting Goes Viral: 10 Tungsten-Filled Gold Bars Are Discovered In Manhattan

As discussed in prior RANTS, Miles Franklin principally recommends one ounce and smaller bullion coins; given the myriad advantages they have over larger denominations.  Given the size, mobility, and universal recognition of smaller denominations, they tend to be the most liquid, with the highest premiums; particularly those manufactured by the world’s five largest mints – in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Austria, and South Africa.

Moreover, one-ounce and smaller coins are near impossible to counterfeit, as the costs of such delicate operations are prohibitive.  From a well-know bullion expert Miles Franklin has regularly dealt with for years

One ounce coins and bars would be very, very difficult to counterfeit, a scheme that have NEVER been found to have occurred, anywhere.

As for larger denomination bars – such as the ones discovered to have been tungsten-salted – let me first say there is as strong a likelihood that the Cartel was responsible than an actual, common thief.  The culprits may never be revealed, but such events are quite rare; and per the three above examples, tend to “conveniently” emerge when gold sentiment is surging after a strong price increase…

Due to the large size of such bars, it is possible to cost-effectively fill them with tungsten.  Irrespective, if not done expertly, any bullion dealer’s measuring apparatus would spot minute weight and density differences immediately.  Consequently, such events very rarely occur, and not a single instance has been reported by a Miles Franklin client in its 22-year history.

That said, as the bull market proliferates – and gold becomes more valuable – the risks of both private and government counterfeit operations will increase.  Fortunately, modern technology has been developed to counter such fraud, as noted by the same source…

Obviously, the best answer is to drill and cut all larger bars.  However, we prefer non-destructive testing.  We recently acquired an X-Ray machine to assist in counterfeit detection – particularly useful for things like 100 oz silver bars – to supplement our standard weight and density tests.  Moreover, we are attempting to ascertain whether we can make use of a GE Phasor XS on 10 ounce bars right now, per the video below

Testing the Purity of Gold Bars with Phasor XS Ultrasonics

…who concludes thus…

Between X-Ray and Ultrasound, we should be able to detect problems on any size products.  However, this is a good reason to stay away from some of the older and larger gold bars; and stick with product such as Gold Eagles or the new Sunshine One-Ounce Gold Bars with validator holograms.   Moreover, counterfeiting gold eagles would bring the full weight of the U.S. Secret Service down on someone, so it is very unlikely to ever occur…

Given heightened industry awareness of the potential for counterfeit coins, and the aforementioned technology, we believe the odds of a proliferation of PHYSICAL PM counterfeiting to be infinitesimal; as does our good friend, Jason Hommel, who penned the following, brilliant article today

Fake 10 oz. Gold Bars – (Don’t worry, paper money is an infinitely bigger scam) – Jason Hommel

Not only do we understand our responsibility as a business – particularly in an unregulated industry – but feel a moral obligation to PROTECT clients, in every way possible.  Which is why you can be sure Miles Franklin will go to great lengths to confirm the authenticity of its products.


Call Miles Franklin at 800-822-8080, and talk to one of our brokers.  Through industry-leading customer service and competitive pricing, we aim to EARN your business.