I was recently turned on to a news article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Don Williams because he was intrigued by its’ title about the U.S. government going after coin recycle's. The article wasn’t about people such as myself who buy old silver coins, but rather about a Chinese businessman’s’ recycling of damaged and mutilated current coinage. It seems the U.S. Mint for years has been buying damaged and mutilated coins that cannot be used in vending machines, something I was not aware of.
It seems the businessman has been sending millions (that’s millions with an “M”) of dollars’ worth of damaged coins back to the Mint for recycling, coins purportedly recovered as a result of all the scrap metal that has been sent to China, think scrap cars, etc. Now I may be a skeptic, but those cars are compacted into very small blocks of metal, and I know the workers in the scrap yards do go through those vehicles before they are compacted, so how millions of dollars’ worth of change can end up in China is beyond my comprehension.
It seems a light bulb ultimately went off in some ones’ head in the government and they did an analysis of those coins and found metal and material that shouldn’t be there, indicating they may have been counterfeited. Since the cost of making dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollar coins would cost less than the face value, and since quality is not an issue because these are already deemed damaged, it would seem a profitable endeavor to counterfeit these coins, and because of the low value would fly under the radar. I’ve written in the past about how they have counterfeited everything from low value common collector coins up to rare and valuable numismatic items and gold coins. The problem also includes not only counterfeiting coins but also placing them in counterfeit third party holders that are meant to be independent authentication and grading.