Police in Longview, Texas, arrested James Leroy Frattarola for the forgery of gold and silver coins and bullion bars following a detailed investigation.
Frattarola is accused of selling his counterfeit gold and silver items to local retailers specializing in precious metals, including gold and silver. The Longview stores in turn sold some of these items to unsuspecting customers who trusted their local retailers to discern the authenticity of the gold and silver.
As some of the items counterfeited were U.S. coins, federal authorities have been asked to participate in the investigation. Counterfeit items included counterfeit Morgan silver dollars, gold Krugerrand coins, a gold $50 dollar U.S. coin, and numerous one-ounce silver bars. The items normally retail from about $30 to more than $1,350.
John Hutmacher, CEO of the United States Gold Bureau in Austin, Texas, warns investors to be extra cautious when buying precious metals. "It's always best to work with a major supplier of metals, rather than a mom-and-pop store," Hutmacher said. "Volume dealers get their inventory direct from official sources and a clean supply chain is the only way to guarantee top-quality," he said.