How to spot fake Vietnamese Gold Bars

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How to spot fake Vietnamese Gold Bars
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Some Photographs of typical fake Vietnam Produced Gold Bars:


The two photos above show typical designs of fake Vietnam Manufactured Gold Bars. There are many other designs out there.

Background Information:

Some 5 to 10 years ago several large shipments of fake Vietnamese Gold Bars were made to Canada.  Fortunately, Canada Customs immediately recogized that these were fakes and therefore seized them.  Unfortunately, it is estimated that approximately 2,000 of these bars were successfully smuggled into Canada.

I purchased 4 of these bars about 5 years ago at a flea market on a visit to Canada.  The bars were being sold for $5 each as a novelty item.  Unfortunately none of the bars were marked at fakes, so it can be assumed that many were purchased by unethical dealers and then sold to the public as the real thing.

There are companies in Vietnam that produce fake products including fake gold bars for export.  Vietnam does NOT have any refining facilities that would be capable of producing .9999 fine gold.  This is your first warning sign!

Composition of these Fake Gold Bars:

One needs to examine the bar with a magnifying glass.  Look at the edge of the bar, and upon close examination you will notice that the bar is actually made up of 3 separate wafers fused together.  The front and the back wafers (as seen in photos above) are very thin and are made of real 24kt gold.  The much thicker middle wafer is made of a gold plated base metal, most likely copper.

Therefore, either the weight of the bar, or the size of the bar will not match the characteristics of a real .9999 pure gold bar.

Simple tests to determine if your gold bar is Real or Fake:

First of all, a trip to a jeweller or a coin store usually will not yield true results.  Most jewellers will look at the hallmarks and tell you that they are real gold.  Most gold dealers will also not take the necessary measures to confirm the gold content either.  So this method is not useful.

Secondly, since the fake bars contain pure gold wafers at the front and back, any chemical or acid test will show that the bar is indeed pure gold.  This testing is also a complete waste of time.

OK, so what now?  Well, you need to understand some basic characteristics of pure gold.  Most specifically, the relationship between gold's weight and it's mass and size.  In order to do this, all you need to know is the Specific Gravity of gold:

Specific Gravity of Pure Gold = 19.32 grams per cubic centimeter.

This means that 1 cubic centimeter of gold weighs 19.32 grams.

Converted to Troy Ounces, this means that 1 troy ounce of .999+ gold  has a volume of 1.62 cubic centimeters.

So here are a couple of simple tests that you can do:

Conduct a specific gravity test. All you need is a beaker with graduated volume markings in millimeters, milliliters, centimeters or any any other unit of measurement.  You can easily convert the measurements later.

Step 1: Fill the beaker with water precisely to a known volume. Make a note of this volume.

Step 2: Place the gold bar inside the beaker. The water level will rise to a higher volume.  Make a note of this volume.

Step 3: Subtract the step 2 volume from the step 1 volume.  The result will yield the data necessary to find the volume of the gold bar.

For example, If in Step 1, the volume was 20 cubic centimeters and in Step 2, the volume was 21.62 cubic centimeters, the difference is 1.62 cubic centimeters, which is exactly 1 troy ounce of pure gold. But you're not done, because you still need to compare this volume to the actual weight of the gold bar.

Weigh the gold bar.  You need a fairly accurate scale, but highly accurate digital scales can be bought for about $20.00:

Step 1: Calibrate the scale to insure it's accuracy.

Step 2: Set the tare to zero prior to placing the gold bar on the scale.

Step 3: Measure the weight of the gold bar.

For example, if the gold bar is stamped as being 1 troy ounce of .999+ gold, and if the Specific Gravity Test above resulted with a value of 1.62 cubic centimeters (which is correct for 1 troy ounce of pure gold) and if the scale shows that the bar weighs 1 troy ounce, then you have proved with 100% certainty that the gold bar is genuine, that it contains exactly 1 troy ounce of pure gold.

However, if any of these numbers do not match, then you know that you have a fake gold bar.

Recommendations if you determine that the gold bar is a fake:.

You were obviously ripped off.  Therefore I recommend the following action:

  1. Contact the purchaser to get a refund.
  2. If you paid with a credit card, then make sure to reverse the charges..
  3. If you paid by check, contact your bank to see if you can reverse the check ( a delayed "stop payment")
  4. If you purchased it at a venue such as Ebay, make sure to file a complaint of fraud with that venue.
  5. If the venue has a feedback system, make sure to leave accurate negative feedback.
  6. If the item was shipped to you then file a Mail Fraud complaint with the US Postal Office.
  7. If the item was shipped accross state lines, then file a Mail Fraud report with the FBI.
  8. If the item was purchased via the internet, then file a complaint with the Internet Fraud Commission.  Search for it on the net.
  9. If the item was purchased locally, call the police and make a Fraud and Theft complaint.
  10. If the item was purchased from a business, contact the better business bureau.

In summary, take as many of the above actions as possible.  We want to prevent fraud and theft, and we want the thieves prosecuted.

Closing Comments:

Please kindly give me a positive vote for this guide if you found it useful.

Thank you very much and feel free to contact me via the eBay "contact member" system if you need some help with conducting these tests.


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