Risks of buying coins or banknotes online

It is not our aim to scare you about buying online, but aware you and give you some hints to detect possible scams. Especially if you are relatively new into this world as you will be an easy target for an expert scammer. Let’s make it difficult for them! 

Every now and then we hear in the news about a massive scam case related with fake money or fake jewels. Whether it’s or not on a big scale, the collecting world, and more particularly the numismatics one, is under constant threat of fraud. No one is exempt from it but the newer you are, the easier it is to fall into some trick.  

Of course we are discovering nothing new. Actually the fake money market probably was born at the same time that the legal currency.  Since the world is world, humans have tried to copy, with fraudulent intentions or not, valuable objects. 

That’s why, as far as money is concerned, all kind of actions were taken to control veracity. It is money houses never ending work to implement new and better improvements in their mints.

On the one side, technological advance, reachable by everybody, make legality race vs imitation very tight: 3D printed, HQ digital photography…
On the other hand, Internet globalization. Numismatics market is adapting to new ages and online transactions are becoming more and more frequent. Anonymity is a double-edge sword as it makes more difficult to trace scammers.  We can find almost the same number of numismatic theme websites than online groups focused in unmask scammers and suspicious online profiles in order to prevent other peers.

Despite all the cons, we can’t say no to online market as it is without a doubt the present and the future and a fantastic tool to collectors. From giants like Ebay or Amazon to local second-hand pages (Gumtree, Wallapop…) or private groups on social media are reachable and super varied showcases in which to expand our collections. 

Online profiles to avoid
We already saw some tips on how to start a numismatic collection. Now we’ll see how to recognize some clear warning signs before purchase online. There are a few profiles we find again and again on social media that, at least, we should suspect of.

  • The new member: probably not new at all but with a new profile (one of how many?) He shows to the group a picture of a high value coin or banknote telling a story about some relative found it. Then he asks naively the others what they think about it, expecting to catch the attention of someone interested in making an offer. Usually this kind of person has very little contacts. Have a look to his profile. 
    • Identity theft:  a member of a Facebook group or blog contact you privately. You belong to that group too and maybe you chatted with him in the past so you don’t feel threatened by this conversation at all. He offers you a real numismatic gem. You are the first one to see it because he has you in high consideration. Be suspicious. And if, on top of it, he has certain urgency, suspect even more! 
    • Private bargains: private messages offering numismatics bargains are a classic in this world. As soon as you join specialized groups, invitations and offers will rain down on you. People can be really persuasive and persistent. Always investigate the profile that offers it to you. 
    • The desperate one: from time to time someone appear in a hurry to sell a lot of coins or even a complete collection because he is in financial trouble. Of course the price he is asking is much lower than should be. As we say, a bargain.  Too good to be real, don’t you think?
  • The savior: Maybe you ‘like’ one post in which someone is selling a set of coins or whatever. A third person intervenes warning you about the fakeness of the product or the overprice. Once he got your attention and trust thanks to his good will, he offers you something that really is what you are looking for. What are the odds?

How to shop coins and notes safely online
To avoid unpleasant surprises in an online shop, pay attention in the places you purchase. It is interesting to be for a while like an ‘observer’ before spending any money.
Weather you are a beginner or no, read as much as you can about the pieces you want to buy to double check that the information you are getting from the seller is certain. After a while, you will build your trust circuits where you could relax, don’t worry.

If you are interested in something from an unknown seller, have a look to his profile to check if you have someone in common, how long he has been in this world, if he has reviews of other buyers or collectors… Always is better to make deals with people with some experience behind. 

Remember that an article graduated and encapsulated by a certified professional is always a warranty. And, as we always say, if you have any doubt ask for a second opinion to a professional .Specially if you are planning to spend a big amount of money.