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Commentary: Thoughts on the PCGS Lawsuit Against Coin Doctors

Below is a Hot Topics Article posted on www.LegendCoin.comCoinLink has reproduced it in it’s entirety. This article is the opinion of the author, Laura Sperber.

KUDOS PCGS!

Please, no one pinch me, this is one dream I do not want to end. My sincere congratulations to David Hall and Don Willis for taking the ultimate step in the fight on coin doctors-filing a lawsuit!

For years the situation with coin doctors has only been growing more desperate. The grading services have been fighting them as hard as they could privately. Every time they thought they had a handle, the coin docs just figured out new ways to continue their destruction. This lawsuit is not for glamour, rewards, or a money grab, it was a necessity. PCGS has done the absolute right thing. TO SEE A COPY OF THE SUIT, VISIT www.coinlink.com

LEGEND NUMISMATICS FULLY SUPPORTS THE COMPLAINT AND PLEDGES TO HELP PCGS BECOME VICTORIOUS.

THE DEALER CULTURE

There is a rotten to the core subculture of coin dealers close to these guys who truly believe that it is their right to doctor, recolor, or do whatever they please to coins for a living. These people have little respect and nothing but contempt for the grading services and the public. Its time they learn they are not above the law. I have already spoken to several dealers who making their living cracking out coins. They see no wrong because they do not consider themselves full coin doctors. Much to my shock, they have the attitude that PCGS is wrong and the complaint will be dismissed. WRONG!

Its mind boggling these greedy whores fail to realize is that FRAUD has been committed. One dealer said to me “Its the grading services job to not allow doctored coins to get through”. True. However, it is against the law to try and defraud them by altering the coins they submit. Once this complaint starts progressing, the peripheral players will be exposed. Those are the guys who really have to be sweating right now. They are the ones who quietly sent coins off to these guys to have the work done for them while they look clean. I think you’ll be shocked to see who some of these names are-especially including some well known longtime PNG members. Plus, sooner or later, it probably will be exposed about a few major firms who employ well known coin docs. They will be a tougher fight because they hire them and called them “conservationists or curators”. In the end, they won’t win-the evidence will be too overwhelming.

PCGS has started the fight “right”. They are not just shooting the dark, they gathered the most facts and proof possible then waited for the right opportunity to file the complaint. There never was any secret among major dealers who the real coin doctors are. Dealers like myself were helpless to fight them other than to publicly complain (if you notice few of my fellow dealers ever stood up and spoke out). I could name most docs, I know who a lot of these guys are, however I would have been sued for sure. PCGS can file suit because they have been directly harmed and they have the physical evidence with the proven patterns of deceit these guys followed. It will be interesting to see the defense tactics the defendants will employ. In my opinion, the best they can do will be to deflect and totally deny. Too bad for the docs, facts are facts-no court or jury should rule against a consumer injury by fraud.

My only hope is that PCGS goes after as many of these guys as they can. The amount of serious coin doctors is actually small relative to the number of total dealers in the business. However, the ones listed in this complaint are just the tip of the iceberg. There are others out there who mix chemicals, recolor coins, add frosting, etc. and brag about it within the dealer world. I have no sympathy for these guys. Their work has made my life miserable and has hurt collectors. They are not around when a customer comes back in a few months or a year or two to show me how the coin I sold turned (note: when a coin is first messed with it can be impossible to detect). Or how when a customer sells their collection and it has become all dreck and I am the one who has to tell them. I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars buying coins back and I am sure the grading services have lost millions. Even if PCGS has to spend a million dollars on this suit, it will be cheaper for them in the long run. Names will be exposed and others will think twice about coin doctoring as a career. There won’t be as many willing submitters these guys can hide behind either. What these bad guys do negatively affects everyone involved in the hobby.

Also, it is my strong opinion, that ANY dealer who feels this suit is bogus or does not support it, is as guilty as the people named. How on earth could you not support a lawsuit against people ruining coins? PCGS has no reason to just pull names out of hat and go after any one they could. I also feel that any dealer who acted knowingly as a “mule” deserves to be punished as well. Why didn’t any of these “mules” ever question why they were submitting coins for others? Altering a rare coin should be a crime, PERIOD. These guys are getting off light by only having to face a civil suit (in Chicago the FBI busted the baseball card guys for fraudulently tampering with cards years ago).

Finally, there is an organization (PCGS) doing some self policing and fighting for the collecting public. This suit was public since 3PM Est Friday May 29th. Why have other organizations-especially my beloved (NOT) PNG [Professional Numismatists Guild] not commented? Who do they support? I fully understand that ALL of the people named in the suit are INNOCENT until proven guilty, but why can’t the PNG at least come out and say something like “we do not condone coin doctoring”? I personally believe its because they know several more of their members WILL be involved. Remember, PNG calls itself the ultimate in consumer protection and claims to hold its dealers to the highest standards of ethics. I am pleased to say that this Wed I will be going in front of the PNG board of directors to discuss coin doctoring and the ramifications of it. I expect to be rubber stamped and not welcomed with hugs and kisses.

WE ALL NEED TO HELP IN THIS FIGHT

One lawsuit will not end the attempts of coin doctors. They are convinced they have a right and probably now feel they are at war with the services. What they do not realize is they are screwing the collector and the hobby in the end. That can only happen for so long before everyone is fed up. That time has come. The public needs to speak out more and push organizations with power-like the ANA and the PNG to take action. If collectors know of someone doctoring coins-even on small level, avoid them and tell the grading services. Make your dealer stay away from the bad guys. Write letters to Coin World or discuss the issue on collector forums. Yesterday, a small but significant step was taken in this critical war. We can win and stop the majority of the coin doctors!

Laura Sperber

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