Medals Scam

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Medals Scam

Post by Admin on Fri 19 Apr 2013, 01:18

Medal scam - 8248975 WO2 Chris McLeod - LSD/DMO - DPM - 11 Apr 13

Dear Editor,

Please alert members who are considering or have had medals mounted by private businesses that there is a scam being perpetrated where replica medals are substituted for originals. This came to my attention when remounting medals for colleagues. What has been happening is: members have presented original medals for mounting and have had replicas returned in their place. This is difficult with full-size medals because the member's details are engraved on the edge (of most). Miniatures are the most common victim of this scam as it takes a keen eye and experience to detect to substitution, a task made difficult when you have no other set for comparison. Fortunately for me, those to whom I have had to report that a substitution had occurred, trusted me and I was never accused of making the substitution myself. Now, on accepting a job, I inspect and even begin pulling the job apart in the presence of the customer to ensure that all the originals are present when they are handed to me. Then I issue the owner with a receipt for "original" full-size / miniatures so that there can be no doubt as to the job details.

For some years now it has been a requirement that replica medals have an identifying mark to indicate they are replicas. By the nature of a medal, it is important that the medal looks authentic when worn, so the "replica" marking is made in a position which is not on display, like the reverse side but not all replicas comply with this requirement. When court mounted the replica indication can not be seen. Detection of replica miniatures is easy enough in all but one case. Because they are usually cast and not minted the edge is a bit rounded whereas the originals have a flat edge with a well defined angle at the front and back. For the scammer, full-size medals which have the engraving on the back can be substituted more easily that those engraved on the edge because the engraved area on the back is covered by the court mounting but are detected in the same way.

The proprietor of a long established militaria company in Brisbane explained to me that collecting medals is a growing "superannuation strategy" which can net even the legitimate collector a retirement nest-egg. It seems that some collectors have found a way to increase their profit margin by this substitution scam. The extent of substitutions I have seen ranges from sloppy work - one replica clasp amongst originals - to a complete set of five miniatures. The five miniatures were detected when presented to me and the phone call, by the owner (now inter-state) back to the previous medal mounter, was met with no argument and his (or someone's) originals were returned. That says to me that the perpetrator knew what he had done and that he had no recourse. Had the medal mounter believed he had not made a "mistake" he would have required some proof or further explanation. Because this was his usual practice, he knew he had a supply of originals to draw from to put things right - in this case. In another case the victim of substitution, upon being shown what had been done, took his job back telling me he would "fix it" and I'm sure that involved the removal of somebody's head.

In my limited experience (about 250 jobs), I have only detected substitution of recently issued medals but have heard reports of whole sets of WW2 medals being substituted on an "industrial" scale. My recommendation to anyone who has medal work done by private businesses is to:

take clear, close-up photos of your originals so you can recognise a substitution;

obtain a receipt detailing, individually, what medals you are presenting for work and that they are originals and what work is to be done;

be prepared to explain why you require a receipt and what information is required on it (without making accusations); and

be prepared to walk away if you don't get it.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Chris McLeod

WO2
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