A Longview Police Department investigation into counterfeit gold and silver coins and bullion bars resulted in the arrest of James Leroy Frattarola on October 4. Federal authorities have also been asked to assist in the investigation since... some of the items counterfeited were U.S. coins.
Longview Police learned that in the course of events related to this case, local gold and silver outlets were sold fake items. Several of these items were, in turn, sold to unsuspecting retail customers. One dealer reports recovering all the fakes that he sold to customers but it is unknown if other counterfeit coins or bullion bars have been circulated.
Included among counterfeit items located in Longview were counterfeit Morgan silver dollars, gold Krugerrand coins, a gold $50 dollar U.S. coin, and numerous one-ounce silver bars. The silver bars confiscated locally are counterfeits labeled with the Northwest Territorial Mint out of Washington State insignia. Police contacted Northwest's personnel. They were extremely helpful and offered expert advice during the investigation. The Northwest Territorial Mint's website offers advice to help buyers avoid purchasing counterfeit silver bars.
The Longview Police Department suggests the following precautions be taken when buying precious metals:
Educate yourself. Selling or purchasing gold or silver without a basic understanding of spot pricing and market mark-up could result in you being victimized by an unscrupulous dealer.
Know who you are buying from. This includes not only the name of the business but the identity of the person making the sale and, even better, the name of the owner/proprietor of that business. Gold/Silver storefronts are common place and vary widely in business practices. Check with the Better Business Bureau or other resources before purchasing from any Gold/Silver vendor.
Get a receipt. This receipt should contain sufficient identifying information so that the seller can be contacted later if needed. It should contain specific identification identifying the item(s) bought, serial numbers, markings, dates, etc. Attaching a photo of your items to the receipt is also a good idea.
If you feel you may have purchased one of these counterfeit items contact Longview Police at 903-237-1199