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How to Tell a Fake Silver Bar From an Authentic Bar

It has recently come to the industry's attention that a Chinese manufacturer has produced counterfeit silver bars from a number of prestigious mints including Johnson Matthey, Engelhard, Sunshine and, unfortunately, a small number of those we mint as well.

These counterfeit bars are easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. There are several techniques to spotting a fake bar, primary of which is related to the characteristics of silver itself. Because of its density, nothing else weighing one troy ounce can have the dimensions of our bars and still be pure silver. Most likely the bar will be silver-plated (though the criminals selling them may claim they are solid silver), in which case its thickness or its other dimensions will be larger. The most common counterfeits measure a noticeably thicker .126 inches, much thicker than our genuine bars at .083 inches. Always compare your bar's measurements to the ones we publish.

fake silver bars vs authentic silver bars

Experts familiar with silver can sometimes spot a true silver bar by a specimen's reflectivity or the sound it registered when struck. NWTM can easily identify the counterfeits by both visible inspection and through the use of our x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, an instrument that identifies the elements of each bar. We strive to assist our customers in making the distinction as well, should the need arise.

Buy Silver with Confidence from Northwest Territorial Mint

Because Northwest Territorial Mint is a mint, you can be sure that when you buy the products we mint from us - Pan American Silver Corp., Northwest Territorial Mint, Stagecoach Silver, and Silver Bullet Bullion - they are.999-fine pure silver. And you can be assured that we always buy these products back at the price we advertise on our web site.

Despite the clear indications that the counterfeit bars are mere imitations, no doubt a few circulating bars will be sold as .999-fine silver to unsuspecting buyers. We at Northwest Territorial Mint are committed to safeguarding our customers and to protecting the Pan American and NWTM brands. We have recovered and destroyed a number of the counterfeits and have been successful in stopping distribution in several instances. If you suspect that you have acquired a counterfeit 1 oz. Pan American bar, please send it to NWTM at the address below for authentication, at no charge to you. Genuine bars will be promptly returned and counterfeits will be destroyed. In addition, please forward the name and source of any counterfeit bar you receive, if known, to NWTM at

Thank you for your assistance and diligence in this matter. We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to protect your investment in precious metals.

Beware! Don't Get Scammed!

James Leroy Frattarola (Source: Gregg Co. Jail)

Avoid becoming the next victim in a complicated bullion scam by purchasing your investments from a nationally reputable dealer like Northwest Territorial Mint.

Since we mint our own silver, you can rest assured that the bullion you purchase from us is real metal. Many local coin shops, eBay, and private sellers (including family) simply don't have the equipment or expertise to ensure this level of quality. Unless you buy from us, you can't be sure that the bullion you purchase is 100% genuine. Northwest Territorial Mint diligently pursues all incidents of fraud and counterfeit, but it's best to avoid high risk situations in the first place by searching out and buying from a trustworthy dealer.

For example, Northwest Territorial Mint recently helped law enforcement track down and arrest a counterfeiter based in Longview, Texas. Thanks to our combined efforts, James Leroy Frattarola, 47, is behind bars and going to prison for possessing counterfeit silver bars with the intent to defraud. The police first learned of the fraud because local gold and silver stores were sold fake items that were then sold to unsuspecting retail customers. Customers were buying fake silver bars from coin shops that did not have the ability to test the metal. The counterfeit items included numerous one-ounce silver bars falsely labeled with the Northwest Territorial Mint insignia.

This counterfeiter will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but the damage is largely done to many of the local coin shop customers who bought the fake merchandise. Don't be scammed, swindled, or defrauded. Buy your bullion from Northwest Territorial Mint so you can be confident that you are receiving the real metal.

Northwest Territorial Mint, a leader in the precious metals industry, is a member
in good standing of the professional industry associations shown below.

Pan American Silver, Pan American Silver Corp., the Hammer Design logo and related marks are registered and unregistered trademarks owned by Pan American Silver Corp. and are used under license.

© Copyright 2005-2015 Northwest Territorial Mint | All Rights Reserved
Northwest Territorial Mint® and Graco Awards® are registered trademarks of Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC

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