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Ethical responsibility to report a suspected fake...

jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

So, I was at an auction today. There was an S-VDB that I'm 95% certain had an added "S". [I should point out, I'm only 95% certain that gravity exists. I'm a skeptic by nature.]

Do I have an ethical responsibility to tell the auctioneer with whom I regular do business, even if it will make him angry?
Do I have an ethical responsibility to tell the other bidders, even though they may well get angry?
Should I just keep my big fat mouth shut because no one wants to hear from me anyway?

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    BillDugan1959BillDugan1959 Posts: 3,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You have no ethical responsibility to say anything.

    Console yourself with that 5% possibility that you might have been wrong and might have said the wrong thing.

    Guard and use your accumulated knowledge and experience in these matters for yourself, family and extremely close friends.

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    RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The auction is governed by its terms of sale. The opinion of someone not connected with the auction is immaterial and might be considered unwarranted interference with trade.

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    CoinstartledCoinstartled Posts: 10,135 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 30, 2017 7:21PM

    Better question would have been if you were 100% certain. In that case I would have spoken up.

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    BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,988 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RogerB said:
    The auction is governed by its terms of sale. The opinion of someone not connected with the auction is immaterial and might be considered unwarranted interference with trade.

    I remember an auction where there was a question about a lot and the auctioneer ended up removing it from the auction. He may have done the same had the OP opined, but he'd better have been right.

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    CoinlearnerCoinlearner Posts: 2,464 ✭✭✭✭

    Since you have a regular business relationship, I would privately mention to the auctioneer,the cent may be altered.

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    BuffaloIronTailBuffaloIronTail Posts: 7,411 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If that coin got to auction, am I wrong to think that a lot of trained eyes missed the alteration?

    jmlanzaf........I'm not implying you're wrong.....you saw the coin.

    Pete

    "I tell them there's no problems.....only solutions" - John Lennon
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    SoCalBigMarkSoCalBigMark Posts: 2,786 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's an auction, buyer beware. You are bidding against others with hopefully a limited budget, now you can buy the real 14 D in 64 RED.

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    @Coinstartled said:
    Better question would have been if you were 100% certain. In that case I would have spoken up.

    I got the impression that he's 100% certain because he's as certain about this coin as he is that gravity exists.

    Very interesting that the majority opinion is to stay out of it. It's truly a buyer beware world in rare coins.

    I wonder if a pro grader would have or feel any sort of responsibility if he knew 100% for sure that an auction item wasn't legit...

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BuffaloIronTail said:
    If that coin got to auction, am I wrong to think that a lot of trained eyes missed the alteration?

    jmlanzaf........I'm not implying you're wrong.....you saw the coin.

    Pete

    It's more of a "country auction" not a Heritage auction. The auction house has some knowledge, but they are not numismatists.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Years ago, there was a fake $3 gold piece in a different auction house. It sold. The buyer sent it to a TPG and found out it was fake. He returned it to the auction house. Since it is illegal to sell counterfeit U.S. coins, the auction house was forced to take it back despite the "terms and conditions". I saw the exact same coin in the next coin auction they had.

    The only reason I bring it up is because every time I say something, I'm the one they get mad at. If I mention it to a buyer and they haven't already come to the same conclusion, they get mad. Their anger is either defensive, because they think I'm suggesting their ignorance or because they suspect I'm trying to buy the coin myself. If I mention it to the auctioneer, they may accommodate my opinion or garner others, but they also seem to get angry as though I'm accusing them of something...or maybe costing them money.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    By the way, in the very same auction there was a Lincoln cent set with no S-VDB (probably the one they sold singly) but it had a 1922 no D. But the 1922 no D was really a weak D. That set sold for over $800 so I assume they bought it as a no D. I think that situation is slightly different as an altered S-VDB is an intentional fraud by someone unknown, while the 1922 weak D is just a missed diagnosis.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Tradernik said:

    @Coinstartled said:
    Better question would have been if you were 100% certain. In that case I would have spoken up.

    I got the impression that he's 100% certain because he's as certain about this coin as he is that gravity exists.

    Very interesting that the majority opinion is to stay out of it. It's truly a buyer beware world in rare coins.

    I wonder if a pro grader would have or feel any sort of responsibility if he knew 100% for sure that an auction item wasn't legit...

    I'm skeptical by nature, even about my own knowledge. LOL. I'm as close to 100% certain as I can be as an "amateur".

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    @jmlanzaf said:
    I'm skeptical by nature, even about my own knowledge.

    An admirable stance, and one I try to emulate. This is what I see as missing in the generation that has followed my own...but to them I'm just an old guy.

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    cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,061 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Publicly interfering and alerting other buyers would be problematic. If I said anything at all, it would be in private to the auctioneer.

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    cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,061 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    Years ago, there was a fake $3 gold piece in a different auction house. It sold. The buyer sent it to a TPG and found out it was fake. He returned it to the auction house. Since it is illegal to sell counterfeit U.S. coins, the auction house was forced to take it back despite the "terms and conditions". I saw the exact same coin in the next coin auction they had.

    I would have alerted the US Secret Service for counterfeit coins. I'm not sure they would have cared or done anything as their enforcement seems to be lax in recent years.

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    ldhairldhair Posts: 7,123 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would have to stay out of it.

    Larry

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    BuffaloIronTailBuffaloIronTail Posts: 7,411 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Show this to the auctioneer.........if the mintmark and position is not like these 4 dies then it is altered




    Pete

    "I tell them there's no problems.....only solutions" - John Lennon
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    ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,886 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2017 12:32AM

    For the people saying to stay out of it, do you feel the same way about the situation when the auctioneer is eBay?

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    TwoSides2aCoinTwoSides2aCoin Posts: 43,846 ✭✭✭✭✭

    if it isn't any skin off your knuckles, why drag them into it ?

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    ajaanajaan Posts: 17,124 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2017 5:15AM

    @Zoins said:
    For the people saying to stay out of it, do you feel the same way about the situation when the auctioneer is eBay?

    Good point. Perhaps doing it in person is different than doing it behind a keyboard.


    DPOTD-3
    'Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery'

    CU #3245 B.N.A. #428


    Don
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    mustangmanbobmustangmanbob Posts: 1,890 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If I was really sure, I would wait til it was over, and then tell the buyer, so there would ZERO implication that I was out to manipulate the sale. If they did not know about PCGS grading, I would inform them.

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    jdimmickjdimmick Posts: 9,597 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Many years ago I had the same situation where several gold coins were fake, I though it was my duty to inform the auction house, they were pissed and told me to literally take a hike, so I informed over half the room about the coins, and when the time came for auction, folks stop bidding. They cancelled the auction and escorted me out off the premises and told me never to come back. So I probably wouldn't do it again.

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Unless I were 100% sure, I would not say anything.....and if 100%, I would speak privately with the auctioneer/authority - whoever was in charge. Cheers, RickO

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    TwoSides2aCoinTwoSides2aCoin Posts: 43,846 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Zoins said:
    For the people saying to stay out of it, do you feel the same way about the situation when the auctioneer is eBay?

    I want people to tell me if I'm representing something not authentic, as Fred Weinberg did for me once ( on eBay) . I believe he spared me a lot of anguish, for my ignorance. So, for that reason .... i go to PCGS , ATS, or ANACS for authentication with such. And the terms are always a BUY Back.

    But I stand by my first post. There isn't an ethical responsibility to play watchdog. Especially when there is a 5% chance we are in a weightless environment. I'm 95% sure.

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    CoinstartledCoinstartled Posts: 10,135 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Tradernik said:

    @Coinstartled said:
    Better question would have been if you were 100% certain. In that case I would have spoken up.

    I got the impression that he's 100% certain because he's as certain about this coin as he is that gravity exists.

    Very interesting that the majority opinion is to stay out of it. It's truly a buyer beware world in rare coins.

    I wonder if a pro grader would have or feel any sort of responsibility if he knew 100% for sure that an auction item wasn't legit...

    I recall Eagle Eye stepping up to the plate....

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    OverdateOverdate Posts: 6,938 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Isn't it the bidder's responsibility to take reasonable precautions to verify (or obtain a guarantee on) the authenticity of what he/she is bidding on? I can see giving your honest opinion if asked (making it clear that it's an opinion), but in this circumstance I don't think you have an ethical duty to intervene.

    My Adolph A. Weinman signature :)

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    ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,886 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2017 8:39AM

    @jdimmick said:
    Many years ago I had the same situation where several gold coins were fake, I though it was my duty to inform the auction house, they were pissed and told me to literally take a hike, so I informed over half the room about the coins, and when the time came for auction, folks stop bidding. They cancelled the auction and escorted me out off the premises and told me never to come back. So I probably wouldn't do it again.

    How sure were you the coins were fake? It's interesting that they would be so insistent on selling fakes which is illegal. I would hope auction houses wouldn't want to engage in illegal activities and at least review the coins. Can you say who the auction house was?

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    Cougar1978Cougar1978 Posts: 7,632 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2017 1:20PM

    I don’t say anything. I am not a counterfeit detection expert / specialist. Nor do I run an auction house.

    I buy PCGS certified coins. If u want to buy or bid on a a raw coin in exercising free will that’s your call and your problem if it’s cleaned, AT, or fake.

    So Cali Area - Coins & Currency
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    KoveKove Posts: 2,026 ✭✭✭✭

    Unless you are backing up your opinion with an authenticity guarantee like PCGS, you have no business interfering. Your skills are known to no one, and you're only one person (the TPGs have multiple experts making the call).

    Imagine the chaos if a bunch of questionably skilled, but self-assured, numismatic vigilantes started spouting off about auction coins they thought were fake.

    Anyone buying raw coins takes the authenticity responsibility upon themselves.

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    BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,988 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jdimmick said:
    Many years ago I had the same situation where several gold coins were fake, I though it was my duty to inform the auction house, they were pissed and told me to literally take a hike, so I informed over half the room about the coins, and when the time came for auction, folks stop bidding. They cancelled the auction and escorted me out off the premises and told me never to come back. So I probably wouldn't do it again.

    You could have bought them, sent them to a TPG and when returned as fakes taken them back to the auction house for a refund plus 10% to keep your lips zipped. Just sayin.

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    BillDugan1959BillDugan1959 Posts: 3,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Kove said:

    Imagine the chaos if a bunch of questionably skilled, but self-assured, numismatic vigilantes started spouting off about auction coins they thought were fake.

    Gosh, this never happens...

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    BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,988 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Zoins said:
    For the people saying to stay out of it, do you feel the same way about the situation when the auctioneer is eBay?

    When people here see a fake on eBay it gets posted SO fast that we get whiplash from watching them do it.

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    BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,988 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ricko said:
    Unless I were 100% sure, I would not say anything.....and if 100%, I would speak privately with the auctioneer/authority - whoever was in charge. Cheers, RickO

    ORRRR you seek out a friend and in a voice loud enough to be heard you say, Hey Rick, I was gonna bid on that 09-S VDB, but I think it's fake. Go take a look at it.

    Otherwise, I don't think anyone has a duty to to warn others.

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    BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,988 ✭✭✭✭✭

    How common is it for an auction house to seek the advice of an expert about grades and/or authenticity before putting raw coins up for auction?

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    LRCTomLRCTom Posts: 857 ✭✭✭

    I have gone to a fair number of these kinds of auctions. When they have a fake or alteration, and I'm sure of that, i let the auctioneer know quietly. In each case they have either pulled the item, or announced "we're not sure about the authenticity of this one."

    LRC Numismatics eBay listings:
    http://stores.ebay.com/lrcnumismatics

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    ElmhurstElmhurst Posts: 775 ✭✭✭

    Any potential buyer should have already done their homework. My experience is that no good deed goes unpunished, so just forget about it.

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    CameonutCameonut Posts: 7,258 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Zoins said:

    @jdimmick said:
    Many years ago I had the same situation where several gold coins were fake, I though it was my duty to inform the auction house, they were pissed and told me to literally take a hike, so I informed over half the room about the coins, and when the time came for auction, folks stop bidding. They cancelled the auction and escorted me out off the premises and told me never to come back. So I probably wouldn't do it again.

    How sure were you the coins were fake? It's interesting that they would be so insistent on selling fakes which is illegal. I would hope auction houses wouldn't want to engage in illegal activities and at least review the coins. Can you say who the auction house was?

    Jim knows his chit (I'd wager, far better than you, no disrespect intended). If he says it's fake - take it to the bank. He is one of the dealers that still has his integrity.

    “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson

    My digital cameo album 1950-64 Cameos - take a look!

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    jdimmickjdimmick Posts: 9,597 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2017 4:39PM

    Its been a long while ago, so I am not sure who the name of the auction company was, but it was hosted by the vander fire dept. (they were not the auction company though). Trust me, they were not genuine, Several folks I knew and had done business were in the room, so I made sure I pointed that out to several of them.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Conrad. While I was sitting at dinner a second ago, thinking about that night, I think Terry Doyle was there also Conrad. I believe it was right after I met him, you remember him don't ya, he was the one that was instrumental in getting your southern pines coin club started back in the day. Course its long been discontinued now.

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    jonathanbjonathanb Posts: 3,425 ✭✭✭✭✭

    95% certainty is about 6% lower than my personal bar for opening my mouth on stuff like this.

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    ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,886 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2, 2017 7:33AM

    @Cameonut said:

    @Zoins said:

    @jdimmick said:
    Many years ago I had the same situation where several gold coins were fake, I though it was my duty to inform the auction house, they were pissed and told me to literally take a hike, so I informed over half the room about the coins, and when the time came for auction, folks stop bidding. They cancelled the auction and escorted me out off the premises and told me never to come back. So I probably wouldn't do it again.

    How sure were you the coins were fake? It's interesting that they would be so insistent on selling fakes which is illegal. I would hope auction houses wouldn't want to engage in illegal activities and at least review the coins. Can you say who the auction house was?

    Jim knows his chit (I'd wager, far better than you, no disrespect intended). If he says it's fake - take it to the bank. He is one of the dealers that still has his integrity.

    If it's a guaranteed fake by an expert, I think there should be an ethical responsibility to report it and consider it.

    We are all in this hobby together. We shouldn't want anyone to be taken by a fake and we shouldn't want anyone to sell an illegal item.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BuffaloIronTail said:
    Show this to the auctioneer.........if the mintmark and position is not like these 4 dies then it is altered




    Pete

    Pete,

    Yes, I love those diagnostic photos.

    It wasn't even the right "S" much less the position.

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    ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,886 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It could be great if there was a mobile app that could:

    • Take high resolution photos
    • Compare and display photo against a list of known genuine and counterfeit dates
    • Provide a probability of genuine or counterfeit based on photo match

    Of course, one problem with this is that the counterfeiters could start using the app during their production.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Zoins said:
    It could be great if there was a mobile app that could:

    • Take high resolution photos
    • Compare and display photo against a list of known genuine and counterfeit dates
    • Provide a probability of genuine or counterfeit based on photo match

    Of course, one problem with this is that the counterfeiters could start using the app during their production.

    One of the problems is that individual coins will have unique features that could lead to false negatives.

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    tennbjjtennbjj Posts: 94 ✭✭✭

    Tough one. I had a similar situation, but much more obvious where I was 100% right.

    Local auction company was selling off a large estate that included coins. In it was a BEAUTIFUL 1879 CC Trade Dollar :)

    I held my tongue but told the winning bidder(who I had seen at the auction several previous times) he may want to save his money sending it into PCGS

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    BillDugan1959BillDugan1959 Posts: 3,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @Zoins said:
    It could be great if there was a mobile app that could...

    One of the problems is that individual coins will have unique features that could lead to false negatives.

    Another possible problem is that genuine lower grade coins and genuine coins that have been cleaned/polished may not have/ may no longer have the various diagnostics that one would hope to see.

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    Cougar1978Cougar1978 Posts: 7,632 ✭✭✭✭✭

    An informed buyer is not going to buy / bid on a raw issue like this known to be faked.

    If a coin worth enough to justify slab cost is still raw that should be a red flag to anyone where the elevator goes to the top.

    So Cali Area - Coins & Currency
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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,931 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Cougar1978 said:
    An informed buyer is not going to buy / bid on a raw issue like this known to be faked.

    If a coin worth enough to justify slab cost is still raw that should be a red flag to anyone where the elevator goes to the top.

    I think that's slightly exaggerated. There are a LOT of raw coins still out there. Any informed seller should slab a coin that's highly faked because of all the suspicion. But not every country auction house takes estate coins and sends them to TPG.

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