Manhattan Jeweler Finds Counterfeit Gold Bars
Posted by Adam King on October 17, 2012
Rumors and hearsay of gold bars counterfeited with the element tungsten have become relatively widespread since the epic rise of gold in the past decade. Tungsten, a metal on the table of periodic elements, is nearly the same weight as gold making it a prime material in the counterfeit of gold.
At current rates, an ounce of gold is worth $1,749.07 while an ounce of tungsten is worth about $360.
The Perth Mint in Australia has debunked a well-known case that surfaced in 2010 via the Internet and a case that surfaced in March of this year.
However, the rumors and internet hearsay may have a damaging factor in that they make substantiated cases less likely to be taken seriously.
In early September, a gold dealer in Manhattan’s Diamond District on 47th Street discovered a gold bar he had purchased had been counterfeited with more than 75 percent tungsten.
Ibrahim Fadl holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University in chemical engineering, but even his education and his eleven years in business did not prevent his purchase of several gold bars that had been hollowed out and filled with the metal tungsten.
Fadl told Business Insider that a fellow merchant on 20th Street drilled into a 10-ounce gold bard he had bought to check its quality to learn it had been salted with tungsten. He warned Fadl to do the same and he discovered the inside of his gold bars had been carefully and methodically hollowed out and filled with a bar of tungsten, leaving only of shell of gold around the lesser metal thinner than the width of a penny.
The FBI and Secret Service are currently investigating the incident, though Fadl openly questions their ability to stop the counterfeiting based on the amount of incentive involved.
Larger gold bars are well-known to be easier to counterfeit than gold coins, particularly numismatic gold coins, which carry less incentive to counterfeiting because of their molding and smaller size. Gold coins and numismatic gold coins also typically carry independent certification by a professional grading service, a process that usually involves historical grading and fraud detection, making the pieces less likely to reach market in a counterfeit fashion.
Fadl told reporters that he bought the counterfeit gold bars from a Russian merchant who has since returned to his home country.