Seller Beware: Traveling Gold Buyers May Offer Bigger Promises Than Payouts

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A traveling gold buyer recently offered only $60 for a rare gold coin experts valued at $10,000. "If you don't know coins, you'd better know your coin buyer," advises the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG). Several PNG member-dealers have been assisting news media investigations of traveling gold and jewelry buyers who move from town to town, usually setting up temporarily in local hotels.

Despite prominent advertising that may proclaim, "NO ONE PAYS MORE," some traveling gold buyers are offering pennies on the dollar for valuable gold and silver coins, cautions the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), a nonprofit organization composed of many of the country's top rare coin and bullion coin dealers.

In one instance, an out-of-town buyer offered only $60 -- significantly less than even its bullion melt value -- for a rare 1925-dated U.S. gold coin valued at $10,000 by PNG experts.

"Recent news media investigations conducted with the assistance of Professional Numismatist Guild member-dealers from Texas revealed that some traveling gold buyers who set up for a few days in a hotel, then move on to another town, sometimes offered as little as three percent of the actual value of coins they were offered. You may see bigger promises than payouts," said Robert Brueggeman, PNG Executive Director.

"Results reported in those stories are not necessarily indicative of all hotel coin buyers across the country, but we encourage people who want to sell gold or silver to prepare in advance: know beforehand what you are selling and get more than one offer, preferably in writing. Consult with local merchants in your community who may not have flashy advertising but who may offer you considerably more money for your coins and jewelry. Members of the Professional Numismatists Guild must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise," advises Brueggeman.

The recent investigations conducted in five Southeastern states also uncovered another potential problem for sellers.

"The scales used by some itinerant buyers to weigh gold jewelry may not even be lawfully registered with government agencies. That could result in inaccurate weight measurements to your detriment when you're selling gold jewelry for its melt value," said Brueggeman.

Investigations conducted by The Examiner newspaper in Beaumont, Texas of several traveling gold buying companies at hotels in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas revealed that "promises of big money weren't really true, and in many encounters the money offered was nearly a fourth or less of the actual value of the items being presented for sale," according to Jerry Jordan, the award-winning News Editor of The Examiner.

Jordan also discovered some traveling buyers operate under multiple assumed names, have lawsuits filed against them and are targeting areas of the country undergoing economic distress. The investigations also revealed that some hotel buyers do not have a brick and mortar storefront presence as required by some government agencies. In addition, some traveling buyers do advertising encouraging people to mail in their gold to sell.

Editor Jordan reported that at one hotel location, "The Examiner brought in its entire supply of coins, scrap gold and bullion -- valued at more than $43,000 -- and was offered $11,600, or about 25 cents on the dollar." At another location, hotel buyers offered only $680 for $25,580 worth of certified gold coins; only about three percent of their actual, easily determined value.

Jay Sheppard of the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Texas warned, "I consider it a red flag when these companies pay cash and refuse to offer transaction receipts."

KBTV Fox 4 television in Beaumont also did two stories about investigations in that community in conjunction with News Editor Jerry Jordan of The Examiner.

PNG Executive Director Brueggeman emphasizes: "If you don't know coins, you'd better know your coin buyer."

Founded in 1955, the PNG has a strict Code of Ethics for its members in the buying and selling of numismatic items. For additional information and the locations of PNG member-dealers, call (760) 728-1300 or visit online at

The Examiner newspaper stories can be viewed online: "Treasure Hunters or Gold Diggers" (January 14, 2010) at

"Illegal" (March 19, 2010) at

"Update: Seller Beware" (April 6, 2010) at

and "Be warned -- hotel gold buyers back in town" (June 28, 2010) at

You can view videos of the Fox 4 "Seller Beware" stories online at these web sites: "Seller Beware: The Great Treasure Hunt Un(der)covered Part One" (March 11, 2010) at

and "Seller Beware: The Great Treasure Hunt Un(der)covered Part Two" (March 12, 2010) at


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