PCGS Helps Police Arrest Counterfeit Coin
provided to Northern California law enforcement
authorities by Professional Coin Grading Service
led to the arrest of a suspect who is now under
investigation in connection with the sales of
fraudulently altered Morgan dollars in tampered
PCGS holders for nearly $300,000.
“Genuine, common date Morgan dollars were split
into two pieces (front and back along the rim),
then adhered to each other in combinations to
create the illusion of rare date and mintmarks.
The coins then were placed in tampered PCGS
holders to give the coin credibility in the
marketplace and to hide the alterations,” said
Stephen Mayer, Chief Operating Officer of
Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT), parent
company of Professional Coin Grading Service.
Among the fraudulent alterations were “1883-S,”
“1884-S” and “1903-S” that were deceitfully
labeled as PCGS MS65, MS63 and MS64,
After learning about the fakes in late
September, Mayer contacted the U.S. Secret
Service. Mayer also worked with the Alameda
Police Department, providing investigators with
detailed information about the altered coins,
the altered PCGS holders and six California
dealers who purchased or were offered
counterfeit or suspicious coins that reportedly
were originally offered or sold by the same
Roberto Blas Rodriguez, age 32, of Hayward,
California was arrested October 7, 2009 by
Alameda Police. He is charged with fraud,
suspicion of burglary and violating trademark
law, and is free on $45,000 bail.
PCGS was first alerted on September 21 about
suspicious coins by Spectrum Numismatics of
Irvine, California, a PCGS-authorized dealer.
“They had been offered the coins and immediately
recognized that the coins were suspicious. We
viewed the coins at our facility in Santa Ana,
California, and confirmed the coins and holders
had been altered,” said Mayer.
Subsequently, Mayer was in contact with five
other Northern California dealers who claimed
they recently were offered or purchased coins
from the suspect, and Mayer supplied the
information to investigators. PCGS Senior
Numismatist Mike Sargent also assisted
investigators with examination of the coins and
going to Alameda to assist investigators onsite.
“These are not the same type of fakes as the
die-struck Chinese counterfeits that are being
offered in the marketplace. This is an entirely
different method of counterfeiting, slicing
genuine coins in half,” explained Sargent.
Mayer commented; “The PCGS-authorized dealers
were alert and proactive about the suspicious
coins. The information they provided was timely
and invaluable. The dealers were able to
recognize the altered coins, and their actions
enabled us to immediately stop any further
distribution of these coins.”
Investigators are trying to determine if the
suspect manufactured the fakes or was only
selling them from another, unknown source either
from the United States or elsewhere.
Anyone with additional information that could
assist investigators is asked to contact
Detective Lorenzo Graham of the Alameda Police
Department at (510) 337-8388.