Sept 24, 2012
A few days ago, our report on the discovery of a single 10 oz Tungsten-filled gold bar in Manhattan’s jewelry district promptly went viral, as it meant that a tungsten-based, gold-counterfeiting operation, previously isolated solely to the UK and Europe, had crossed the Atlantic.
The good news was that the counterfeiting case was isolated to just one 10 oz bar. This morning, the NYPost reports that as had been expected, in the aftermath of the realization that the sanctity of the gold inventory on 47th Street just off Fifth Avenue has been polluted, and dealers promptly check the purity of their gold, at least ten more fake 10-ounce “gold bars” filled with Tungsten have been discovered.
The Post has learned as many as 10 fake gold bars — made up mostly of relatively worthless tungsten — were sold recently to unsuspecting dealers in Manhattan’s Midtown Diamond District.
The 10-oz. gold bars are hugely popular with Main Street investors, and it is not known how many of the fake gold bars were sold to dealers — or if any fake bars were purchased by the public.
As is to be expected, the Post story is weak on details: after all, any dealer who admits to having allowed Tungsten to enter his or her inventory can kiss their retail business goodbye, as customers will avoid said Tungsten outlet like the plague, for the simple reason that suddenly counterparty risk has migrated from Wall Street to the Diamond District. The one named dealer is the same one who already made an appearance in the previous story on Tungsten in gold’s clothing.
One gold dealer discovered that four of the 3-inch-by-1-inch gold bars he bought — worth about $72,000 retail — were counterfeit.
“It has the entire street on edge,” said Ibrahim Fadl, 62, who has been the owner of Express Metal Refining, a Midtown gold-refinery business, for the last 11 years. “I and the others on the street work off of trust; now that trust is strained.”
Fadl, a Columbia University graduate with a master’s degree in chemical engineering, and who has more than 40 years in the industry, purchased the four fake bars from a well-known Russian salesman with whom he has done business.
Ah yes, those pesky Russians: always happy to do the Fed’s bidding, because who really gains from the loss of confidence in physical gold?
Fadl became suspicious when he offered the salesman a deep discount for the investment-grade gold bars and he quickly accepted it, a source tells The Post.
Fadl said he did his due diligence “by X-raying the bars to ascertain the purity of the gold and weighing the bars, and the Swiss markings were perfect.”
Tungsten is an industrial metal that weighs nearly the same as gold but costs a little over $1 an ounce. Gold closed Friday at $1,774.80 an ounce.
We wish Fadl all the best in his liquidation sale. Others, for logical reasons, are far less willing to step forward:
A second 47th Street refiner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was burned recently when he bought six gold bars that turned out to be mostly tungsten, with just a gold veneer. He would not comment, though, on who sold him the bogus bars.
The counterfeiting so far appears to have impacted solely PAMP (Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux ) gold bars, madeby MTB, whose CEO can hardly be too happy that some “Russian” has made it a life mission to destroy the credibility of any gold stamped with the PAMP stamp.
Raymond Nassim, CEO of Manfra, Tordell & Brookes, the American arm of the Swiss firm that created the original gold bars — with their serial number and purity rating stamped clearly into them — said he reported the situation to the US Secret Service, whose jurisdiction covers the counterfeiting of gold bars.
He said his company “is supporting and cooperating with authorities any way we can.”
Nassim thought the culprit must be a professionally trained jeweler to have pulled off the caper.
“The forger had to slice the original bar along the side, hollow out the gold and insert the tungsten ingot, and then reseal and polish the bar, Nassim said.
The case of gold counterfeiting has already taken NYC by storm:
At an industry dinner Thursday night hosted by Comex, the New York-based metals exchange, the room was abuzz with talk about the bogus gold bars, according to Fadl.
Which was also to be expected. What is also to be expected is that as more and more stories of Tungsten making it into broader gold circulation, that retail sales of physical gold will certainly be impaired as end consumers become far more cautious about what they buy.
And while we await more information, especially from the Secret Service, who is “on top” of this case, which we assume implies that gold is after all money, we leave readers with our conclusion from Tuesday: “with false flags rampant these days, we would not be surprised if this is merely yet another attempt to discredit gold, this time physical, as an undilutable medium of warehousing wealth. So buyer beware: in a time when everyone is broke, triple check before exchanging one store of wealth for another.”
For those curious what a fake 10oz bar looks like, here it is again: