Minnesota coin dealer Barry Ron Skog, 68, was sentenced July 9th to 30 months in federal prison for carrying out a counterfeit coin fraud scheme in multiple states. In addition, Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright, U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn., ordered Skog to pay restitution to his victims.
Based on the evidence obtained during the investigation, authorities believe there may be additional victims who have not yet been identified. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau at 651-539-1617. Callers may remain anonymous.
The Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and the Burnsville (Minn.) Police Department conducted the investigation that led to Skog’s arrest. Two members of the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation’s Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force assisted with the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda M. Sertich, U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis.
Coin counterfeit and mail fraud
Skog pleaded guilty February 21 to one count of selling counterfeit coins and one count of mail fraud. He faced a potential maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment on the count of selling counterfeit coins and a potential of 20 years maximum on the mail fraud count. A Minnesota federal grand jury had returned a six-count criminal indictment on April 10, 2018, charging Skog with five counts related to the sale of counterfeit coins and one count of mail fraud. With the plea agreement, the government agreed to dismiss four of the counts related to selling counterfeit coins.
According to the plea agreement Skog owned and operated a mail-order business called Burnsville Coin Company, through which he devised a scheme, from June 2012 through October 2015, to advertise and sell counterfeit coins by fraudulently representing that the coins were genuine and worth hundreds of dollars. The plea agreement described how through his business Skog posted advertisements in Numismatic News, a nationally circulated hobby publication.
“When potential buyers responded to the advertisements, the defendant often mailed them, via the U.S. Postal Service, lists of additional available coins for purchase,” the plea agreement stated. It noted that when Skog communicated with victims, he would often represent himself as “Ron Peterson” and claim to be an employee of the Burnsville Coin Company, when in fact there were no owners or employees of the company other than Skog.
Damage of more than fifty thousand U.S. dollars
The plea agreement stated that Skog sold counterfeit coins to at least 12 separate victims and fraudulently obtained approximately $57,524.29. It noted that he “also intended to create additional loss by advertising for sale 275 additional counterfeit coins at an advertised sale value of approximately $235,000.”
Collectors Universe won a default judgment against Skog in April 2011 in which a federal court issued an order permanently enjoining Skog from manufacturing and importing counterfeit Professional Coin Grading Service holders. The order also enjoined him from selling any coin, real or counterfeit, in counterfeit PCGS holders. Collectors Universe is the parent firm of the PCGS.
The civil lawsuit was filed on Dec. 7, 2010, in the United States District Court, Central District of California, and accused Skog and his coin business of selling during the previous four years counterfeit rare coins not marked COPY and housed in counterfeit PCGS holders, known as “slabs,” made to order from Chinese manufacturers.
CoinsWeekly published a report on the initial indictment in April 2018.
If you want to learn more about the world of ancient and modern money counterfeiting, and ways of detecting forgeries, visit the newly launched website of Numismática Forense (in Spanish language).