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Coins and the Law: Recent Stories on Numismatic Crime

Alledged “Coin Broker” Convinced Elderly Woman to put Life Savings Into Gold Coins, then Steals them Back

The Manhattan DA’s office announced the indictment of a “rare coin broker” who allegedly convinced an elderly woman and her daughter to invest their life savings in rare gold and silver coins, and then stole $430,000 worth of the coins back from them.

The “Coin Broker/Advisor”, Stephanie Brown of Paradise Valley, Arizona, has been charged with grand larceny, fraud and forgery to name a few, and DA Cy Vance said, “The defendant preyed upon the victims’ fears of a national financial collapse and convinced them to sink their life savings into collector coins.”

According to a Wall Street Journal Article,”Over the next two and a half years, the 83-year-old mother ensnared in the alleged scheme spent $1 million — her life’s savings — and her daughter paid $80,000 to acquire about 160 coins, according to prosecutors. Brown earned $100,000 in commission on the sales.Brown began selling them coins in March of 2007, and soon convinced them to “liquidate all financial investments they held and to invest their life’s savings in gold coins.” The mother and daughter combined spent about $1.1 million on the coins, and Brown  reportedly earned commissions of about $100,000.

Brown then allegedly convinced the two to keep the coins at home, and then gained entry to their house, after which she was left alone with the coins. She is accused of destroying the documents identifying the coins and stealing 57 of their 160 coins, worth $430,000. Prosecutors have now recovered 16 of the stolen coins, which Brown had resold.

Brown is currently under investigation in connection with coin sales in California and Arizona, prosecutors said, but she has not been charged in those states. She was a former employee of ITM Trading and began her own business, GBA Gold, a/k/a GBA Investments LLC ( The Web Site has been suspended) 26546 N. Alma School Road #230 Scottsdale, AZ 85255 ( Better Business Member with an A- rating joined on 7/20/2010)

Editors Note: If you read through a number the articles written about this story, it is amazing to read certain statements and characterizations.

For example, Ms Brown was described as a “Rare Coin Expert” in one WSJ article. Funny, i thought she was just a thief and a con artist. Is she indeed a “Coin Expert” or just a person selling coins? You decide. Here is a link to a brief profile on Ms. Brown.

In another article the Daily News writer made the following comment on the Gold market; “While gold has traded at an all-time high, topping $1,400 an ounce in the past few days, collectible coins are not as safe as gold because they are gilt, not solid gold.”  Even Assistant District Attorney Adam Kaufmann gave his opinion on the coin market saying.”Gold coins are not a great hedge in these economic times” REALLY?

Finally Minyanville.com took a more political angle on the story with their headline “Gold Coin Scammer Takes Page From Glenn Beck’s Playbook” Somehow I don’t think this story has anything to do with Glen Beck, Fox News, Goldline or NY Rep Wiener. Give it a rest….

Stolen Coins Removed from London Auction

The Sofia News Agency reported that Bulgarian medieval coins which were to part of a Nov 10th auction by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc in London has been removed from the sale, including a very rare silver penny of despot Dobrotitsa, minted in Kaliakra.

In 2007, a collection of 500 medieval crosses and 2 000 medieval coins, including the said silver penny, were stolen from the home of one of the authors of the book titled “Bulgarian Antique Coins from the 9th to the 15th Century Period” , published in 1999.

After the joint operation between the Main Directorate “Criminal Police,” the Bulgarian Culture Ministry, and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations, the Bulgarian medieval coins have been taken off the auction site and their sale halted.

Attempted Break-In at Fort Worth Coin Club Show.

Doug Davis from the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC) reports…..

“On Saturday November 6, 2010 at approximately 6:45pm two suspects attempted to break into the bourse floor after the close of the Fort Worth Coin Club show in Fort Worth, Texas. Doug Davis, Founder/President, of the Numismatic Crime Information Center and who provides security for several coin shows in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex was on scene at the time of the incident.

Banging sounds were coming from the rear door entrance to the show and Davis went to investigate. As he approached he saw a large screw driver come through the top of the door and a crowbar prying at the bottom. Davis identified himself as a police officer and instructed them to get back away from the door. The suspects dropped the tools and fled. Fort Worth police were called and a crime scene investigation was conducted. The offense remains under investigation.

“To my knowledge this is the first time an attempted burglary/robbery has occurred in the last 15 years or longer”, Davis said. “Although this may be an isolated event dealers must be alert and cautious when attending numismatic events and bourse chairmen should provide adequate security regardless of the cost”, said Davis.

Hard economic times and the rise in gold and silver prices are factors in the rise in numismatic crimes. Collectors and dealers are encouraged to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of becoming a numismatic crime victim. “

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