Our industry leaders met in Dallas in early March to discuss the growing number of complaints about gold coin scams and gold coin fraud using counterfeit coins and counterfeit coin packaging.

Then, one of the biggest fraud stories in the coin world last week was the discovery of a series of fake gold bars professionally packaged in an apparent exact knockoff of the packaging design of a leading Swiss precious metals dealer. These are believed to originate out of China, where fraudsters seem to be able to counterfeit anything these days. Not only was the “.9999 gold” a counterfeit, but so was the packaging.

In recent months, we’ve also heard complaints about counterfeit gold and silver American Eagle bullion coins and phony one-ounce silver rounds used in coin rip-offs.

In previous years, we have also seen tungsten bars painted over with gold leaf or gold bars with tungsten filling. In an interview with NBC News about these tungsten-filled “gold” bars, Mike Fuljenz said, “The people who get hit by gold coin and bullion rip-offs are not the bigger dealers,” since they have the knowledge and the tools to detect counterfeits, but smaller dealers are more often scammed.

Whenever the price of gold makes a positive move, as it has done in the first quarter of 2016, we see ads from coin dealers sprouting up like weeds. Publications have little or no way to check out advertisers. Their main criterion for reliability is whether the check they receive in payment for the ad clears the bank.

Don’t be tricked by an ad on the Internet or on late-night television. As many a parent has told a child, “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” Always check the industry credentials on any dealer you contact. And be careful, because gold coin scams and frauds are also widespread on the Internet.

Mike Fuljenz has taught dozens of courses on numismatics, including advanced techniques for spotting counterfeits. He has been able to help victims of gold coin fraud get their money back, including an elderly man who sent $84,000 to a counterfeiter last year and a doctor who spent $750,000 on counterfeit gold coins. Working with the U.S. Secret Service and law enforcement officials, Fuljenz was able to get those investors’ money back.

When buying coins, it pays to deal with a reputable dealer who is not only honest in business practices but one who is skilled in numismatics, particularly the detection of counterfeits. You can get hurt by a good person who is not an expert, or by a fraud who poses as a numismatist but has never won an award, never worked with law enforcement agencies or helped anyone recover from a counterfeit coin scammer.

When investigating suspected gold coin fraud, Mike Fuljenz and his company, Universal Coin and Bullion, have many allies in law enforcement and numismatics. Over the years, they have worked with the U.S. Secret Service, the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC), several state and local law enforcement officials and one very talented investigative reporter in southeast Texas.