The racketeers are at it again, and from the inquiries I’m getting, they are honing their skills. I’ve had several questions from friends and customers just in the past two weeks about offers they have seen in the newspaper or in direct mail offering purported deals for special coins and currency, but these deals only for the sellers, not the buyers.
Several times in previous columns I’ve warned about scammers who take out full-page ads in newspapers promoting their wares. A recent one in The Press of Atlantic City was fashioned to appear as if it was a news article rather than an advertisement. It made it appear that only people from certain ZIP codes could take advantage of a special offer. They could get uncut sheets of $2 bills (four notes to a sheet) by simply calling a phone number. Buried in the ad was the price of $38 for $8 worth of currency.
The ad made it appear that these were special and that they would be available for just a short period of time. They aren’t special, and I’ll bet that if you called a month from now you could still buy the $2 bills (but why would you want to?).
This follows the typical modus operandi of taking full-page ads to promote items billed as unsearched bags of old coins, special silver bars with state designs, rare Indian cents and Buffalo nickels, just to name a few — and all bogus.
They all have a stock picture of stern-looking men moving carts of boxes supposedly containing coins and a security guard holding an assault rifle. All of these offers are for items that either have nominal value or else could be bought for a fraction of the advertised price. And I use the term “advertised price” loosely because you usually have to hunt through the ad to find it, and in some cases exorbitant postage costs are added to that.
The latest deception — one I haven’t seen before — is a bulk mailing made to look like it was sent specifically to the recipient. It is intended to make the person feel they were singled out for some special offer only available to them. I guess maybe postage costs are cheaper than full-page newspaper ads.
I know I keep repeating myself by writing again about these ads, but people keep falling for them, and what they buy is worth only a fraction of what they paid. I know because we end up buying them from people who have fallen for the ads, so if I can save just a few people from falling prey, it is worth my time.
Don't be taken in by newspaper or radio ads offering to sell some limited item at a special price to viewers or listeners only. Read the fine print. Use the same precaution for infomercials. I have my own infomercial, but I’m not selling anything, I’m just talking about Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles and what services we offer.
These may not be of the same magnitude as the Nigerian who is emailing with an offer to sell his country’s gold, but it still cheats people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
Douglas Keefe is the president of Beachcomber Coins Inc. He and his wife, Linda, operate Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles, formerly in the Shore Mall and now at 6692 Black Horse Pike in the old Wawa building just beyond the former Cardiff Circle. They have satellite offices in Brigantine and Absecon. Between them they have more than 70 years of experience in the coin and precious metals business. They are members of the American Numismatic Association, the Industry Council of Tangible Assets, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation, the Certified Coin Exchange and the Professional Coin Grading Service.