Too good to be true: Swiss ‘gold’ discounts

A screen shot of some of the items sold online

With billions in sales, Chinese online retailer Alibaba Group reaches customers outside of Asia with its Amazon-like AliExpress – and now offers Swiss ‘gold bars’ along with Swiss ‘francs’ at a fraction of the going price.

This content was published on March 9, 2017 - 13:31

Among the offers on the online retailer’s website are one-ounce (28.3-gram) bars of “high quality gold plated bullion” selling for $2.90 (CHF2.94) each.

The bars contain the words “Credit Suisse” and an alleged serial number. Delivery is possible to the United States and some places in Europe – but not to Switzerland.

However, the imitation items are nowhere near as valuable as the real thing, which sells for well more than CHF1,000 per ounce, or over CHF50 per gram.

Credit Suisse told Swiss news portal, which first reported on the fake gold bars, that it would confiscate any such purchases that might turn up at a bank counter, the same as with counterfeit bank notes.

Online trends

Authorities in Canada have warned consumers in recent months to be wary of counterfeit gold bars. Six one-ounce items were sold in Winnipeg for almost $5,000. Canadian police said they were stamped with Perth Mint or PAMP (Produits Artistiques Metaux Precieux — Switzerland).

More such bars, weighing from 10 to 31 grams and each sold for $300 to $800, turned up in Edmonton, Canadian police said. Some were sold via websites such as Canada’s free online classified advertising platform Kajiji.

Last month, Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger first reported that CHF5 coins were selling on the same website under the listing of “cheap coins from China”. Authorities also considered those coins, priced at $1.99 (CHF2.02), to be counterfeit.

Swiss currency

Swiss Federal Police reported finding more than 7,600 fake CHF5 coins in circulation in 2015.

Its figures show that police found a total of 7,619 coins and 2,356 bank notes that were counterfeit that year. In total, the notes had a face value of CHF289,940 ($285,796).

The most popular counterfeit denominations were the CHF5 coins and the CHF100 notes.

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