The sophisticated fakes, unlike many counterfeits, are made of actual gold, but have been illegally mined or processed, Reuters reported. The fact that the bars are made of gold -- instead of simply being gold-plated -- makes them much more difficult to identify and stop.
“The level of counterfeit is becoming really good,” an anonymous Swiss refinery executive told Reuters. “Even for us it is hard to tell. They are, however, slightly less pure because the people doing the counterfeits don’t have the equipment we have.”
The bars, which are approximately the size of a cellphone and cost about $50,000 each, can be identified by the refinery logo stamped onto its surface, its purity, weight and an identification number, Reuters reported.
“The latest fake bars ... are highly professionally done,” Michael Mesaric, the chief executive of refinery Valcambi told Reuters. He also said it is likely there are “way, way, way more still in circulation. And it still exists, and it still works.”
Because the new fakes are so well-done, it can be difficult to tell them apart from an authentic bar of gold. The easiest way to test them, then, is to test their purity, the outlet reported.
For those who end up with the counterfeit gold, they could be violating global rules that have been set in place to prevent funds from going to organized crime groups or to supporting illegal mining practices.
In 2017, JPMorgan Chase found at least two bars of counterfeit-stamped gold in their vaults, Reuters reported. After the discovery, the bank did a full investigation of its gold and found between 50 and more than a hundred, different people told Reuters.
“It’s our standard practice to immediately alert the appropriate authorities and refineries should we discover mismarked gold kilobars during routine checks and procedures,” the bank told Reuters in a statement. “Fortunately, we have yet to have an incident resulting in a loss to the firm or a client.”
FOX Business contacted JPMorgan about the report, and has yet to receive a statement from the bank.
Experts told Reuters that at least 1,000 of the sophisticated fakes have been found, but more could still be out there.
In response, refineries are using tamper-proof ink on their bars and microsurface scans to check the authenticity of their bars, along with other security features, the outlet reported.