Does the U.S. Mint do enough to fight counterfeiters?

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by the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force

December 21, 2017 – Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint David Motl’s Nov. 17 response to an Oct. 27 letter from U.S. Representatives Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Alex Mooney (R-WV) requesting information regarding the Mint’s efforts to combat the rising tide of counterfeit coins entering the United States lacks commitment.

“While the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF) appreciates Acting Deputy Director Motl’s acknowledgement that counterfeiting represents a serious threat to the nation’s coinage, we are nevertheless disheartened that the U.S. Mint’s efforts on the anti-counterfeiting front do not reflect a serious commitment to act against this threat,” said Beth Deisher, Industry Council for Tangible Assets’ Director of Anti-Counterfeiting who also coordinates the ACTF.

In his letter to congressmen Lucas and Mooney, Motl points to the Mint’s Second Annual Numismatic Forum, held on Oct. 17 to discuss marketplace issues with 68 industry leaders. In fact, this forum would have been an excellent venue for U.S. Mint officials to describe the U.S. Mint’s anti-counterfeiting efforts, but the subject was never raised.

ACTF’s concern is that Mint leaders did not raise the subject because the U.S. Mint is doing little to address the surge of counterfeit U.S. coins now entering the United States. The Mint has long held the position that protecting the nation’s coinage from counterfeiters is the responsibility of the U.S. Secret Service; thus, it has remained inactive when it comes to developing and employing modern anti-counterfeiting technology to protect the coins it manufactures.

On Nov. 9, 2017, eight days prior to Motl writing his letter to Reps. Lucas and Mooney, ACTF representatives met with the acting deputy director and other senior staff at U.S. Mint headquarters. In that meeting, ACTF described three important steps the U.S. Mint has the authority and the financial resources to use today to fight the counterfeiters:

  • Respond to the long-standing request from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to register U.S. Mint products with CBP to allow it to identify and interdict counterfeits as they enter the country. To-date, the U.S. Mint has not done so.
  • Incorporate (as other sovereign mints have done) state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting features into the packaging and Certificates of Authenticity that accompany its numismatic products.
  • Launch a research and development program to determine the most effective anti-counterfeiting features to incorporate into its precious metals coins. Other sovereign mints are far ahead of the U. S. Mint in exploring these options and incorporating them into their coinage. As soon as practicable the U.S. Mint should draw upon other national mints’ experience and tap private-sector expertise into order to identify and implement the best anti-counterfeiting technology.

In his letter, Motl states that “in the past two years, we have not received any complaints about current-issue gold, platinum, or silver coins.” In fact, in the Nov. 9 meeting with Mr. Motl, ACTF representatives informed him and other Mint staff of evidence of counterfeiters producing fake American Eagle, American Buffalo, and U.S. commemorative coins, all of which are composed of precious metals.

David Ryder, who awaits U.S. Senate confirmation as the next director of the Mint, identified the counterfeiting threat as one of his top priorities. Ryder has deep experience in the field of anti-counterfeiting technology, and the U.S. Mint is in dire need of leadership that takes this threat seriously. ACTF encourages the U.S. Senate to act quickly to confirm him.

For more information about the task force visit the ACTF website.

This is the official site of the United States Mint.

And if you believe a U.S. coin of yours to be counterfeit, you might want to check with the relevant section of the recently launched NGC online detection counterfeit resource.