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Tungsten-Filled 1 Kilo Gold Bar Found In The UK

Tyler Durden's picture


The last time a story of Tungsten-filled gold appeared on the scene was just two years ago, and involved a 500  gram bar of gold full of tungsten, at the W.C. Heraeus foundry, the world's largest metal refiner and fabricator. It also became known that said "gold" bar originated from an unnamed bank. It is now time to rekindle the Tungsten Spirits with a report from ABC Bullion of Australia, which provides photographic evidence of a new gold bar that has been drilled out and filled with tungsten rods, this time not in Germany but in an unnamed city in the UK, where it was intercepted by a scrap metals dealer, and was supplied with its original certificate. The reason the bar attracted attention is that it was 2 grams underweight. Upon cropping it was uncovered that about 30-40% of the bar weight was tungsten. So two documented incidents in two years: isolated? Or indication of the same phenomonenon of precious metal debasement that marked the declining phase of the Roman empire. Only then it was relatively public for anyone who cared to find out on their own. Now, with the bulk of popular physical gold held in top secret, private warehouses around the world, where it allegedly backs the balance sheets of the world's central banks, yet nobody can confirm its existence, nor audit the actual gold content, it is understandable why increasingly more are wondering: just how much gold is there? And alongside that - while gold, (or is it GLD?), can be rehypothecated, can one do the same with tungsten?

From ABC Bullion:

ABC Bullion received the following email from one of our trusted suppliers this week.



  • It was not ABC Bullion that purchased this bar, the email and photos were sent to us as a general warning.
  • I xxxx'ed out the city's name to avoid any second guessing as to the name of the dealer.




Attached are photographs of a legitimate Metalor 1000gm Au bar that has been drilled out and filled with Tungsten (W).


This bar was purchased by staff of a scrap dealer in xxxxx, UK yesterday. The bar appeared to be perfect other than the fact that it was 2gms underweight. It was checked by hand-held xrf and showed 99.98% Au. Being Tungsten, it would not be ferro-magnetic. The bar was supplied with the original certificate.


The owner of the business that purchased the bar only became suspicious when he realized the weight discrepancy and had the bar cropped. He estimates between 30-40% of the weight of the bar to be Tungsten.


This is very worrying and reinforces the lengths that people are willing to go to profit from the current high metal prices. Please be careful.

Photos of the cropped bars: 1000g Gold bar cut showing inserted tungsten rods

Two halves of the cropped bar:

Finally, some observations from Paul Mylchreest on debasement:

Let’s consider the run-up to Rome’s hyperinflation. I think this comment from “Good Money, Bad Money, and Runaway Inflation” resonates with what’s happening in the US today:


“Severus Alexander (AD 222-235) tried to reform by going back to the denarius but, once started, this path of runaway inflation and financial irresponsibility on the part of the imperial government proved impossible to control.”


It also seems that the hyperinflation was preceded by some kind of banking crisis, which is an interesting parallel. From “Demise and Fall of the Augustan Monetary System” by Koenraad Verboven:


“Papyri show it was common for private individuals to deposit money at a bank and to make and accept payments through bankers.Bankers in the west disappear from view around the middle of the 3rd c… A famous papyrus from Oxyrhynchus from 260 CE shows exchange bankers closing in order to avoid having to change the ‘imperial money’. The strategos ordered the exchange bankers to reopen and accept all genuine coins and warned businessmen to do the same. In 266 CE we find for the first time transactions being expressed in ‘ptolemaeic’ or ‘old silver’ as opposed to ‘new silver’.”


The chart shows how inflation remained relatively subdued until a tipping point was reached in the late- 260s A.D Monetary systems can absorb substantial abuse before there is a dramatic impact on the price level. For example, the debasement of the coinage was already accelerating in the early part of the third century A.D., before plunging in the latter part. Indeed, the chart below (apologies for the quality) only shows the trend up to 253 AD. By around 290 AD, the coins were only dipped in silver to give them a coating (<0.5%):


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Sat, 03/24/2012 - 16:54 | 2287045 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

no surprise at all.
has Cha-Cha-Chavez drilled into his recently repatriated gold bars?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 16:54 | 2287048 Pinto Currency
Pinto Currency's picture

A quick conductivity check or eddy current testing can confirm whether a bar of gold is polluted with tungsten.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:00 | 2287064 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Can the same thing be done with silver?   I would think silver is cheap enough so they would not get this elaborate.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:28 | 2287123 New World Chaos
New World Chaos's picture

The same thing can be done with silver.  Molybdenum or a mix of lead and copper would probably work best.  During the Hunt Brothers panic there were reports of 1000oz COMEX bars stuffed with molybdenum.  There are also fake rare Peace Dollars floating around.  Wouldn't worry about it for Eagles or junk silver.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:36 | 2287140 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

there's an old Hindu saying: "He who smelt it, dealt it".
or was it "he who supplied it, denied it"?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:29 | 2287259 Pladizow
Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:42 | 2287284 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

Ultrasound Bitchez!


"congratulations, your gold bar is pregnant with tungsten!"

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:55 | 2287315 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture we're gonna have to put him through college!


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 19:39 | 2287397 gtb
gtb's picture

Maybe those idiots are birth control for everyone!

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:11 | 2287457 nmewn
nmewn's picture

As long as they force me to pay in tungsten ;-)

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:50 | 2287642 Pinch
Pinch's picture

This is an extremely rare occurrence and there are various methods to stop it (see come comments above). ZH is not doing PM investors any favors by publicising this unusual happenstance.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:09 | 2287678 Mr. Mandelbrot
Mr. Mandelbrot's picture

As long as acid testing and a rough mass density assessment remain the standard for determining the "realness" of gold, we have no way of knowing just how "rare" an occurence this is . . .

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:10 | 2287725 Pinch
Pinch's picture

The dealer in question has said:

I suspect the bar in question was the product of a criminal gang. They most likely bought a real bar with certificate, clamped it in a drill press, drilled out 5 holes and pushed in tungsten rods. The hardest part would have been convincingly resealing the drilled end with melted gold from the drill holes. Whilst I suspect this was not a once off it would certainly be rare. As most gold bought back by dealers (and all bought by scrap dealers) ends up getting re-refined or sold to manufacturing jewelers, if there was a large number of such bars we would be hearing about it on a regular basis as the bars were melted down.

Greg Hudson
ABC Bullion


And clearly, if this becomes a widespread problem, the ultrasound machines (featured in the link a few comments above) will be used everywhere. So this is simply not going to harm the PM market. Capiche?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:20 | 2287761 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Pinch said:

So this is simply not going to harm the PM market. Capiche?

So then what is your problem with ZH making people aware of this story?


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:18 | 2287827 Pinch
Pinch's picture

Unnecessarily putting fear and trepidation into the hearts of PM investors. Isn't it obvious?


Rush Limbaugh in his own words: I'M A NAZI, OH YES I AM!

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:24 | 2287855 deflator
deflator's picture

 Rush Limbaugh is neither nationalistic or socialist, he is just a loud mouth who likes to hear himself talk. Nothing he says are anything remotely his own ideas, he merely parrots from D.C. thinktanks like the Hudson Institute.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 01:07 | 2287899 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Gold, fire in the eye, quite blinding...




Sun, 03/25/2012 - 01:38 | 2287930 Xkwisetly Paneful
Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Physical the way to go!


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:34 | 2288014 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

The only tampreed bars seem to be the small denomination ie less than 1 kilo bars. The 'good for delivery' system seems to be intact.

You are never going to stop this so buyer beware...

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 13:14 | 2288026 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Given recent developments, and upon the advice of The Bernank, the U.S. has announced it has replaced its gold holdings with Moissanites.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 14:30 | 2288716 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

UK was going to use that for their Olympic gold medals

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 11:50 | 2288376 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Lack of evidence does not prove the opposite conclusion.

Anyone drilling good delivery bars is going to have a very good incentive to clam up about the results.

We have very nearly ZERO statistics here.  It is impossible to draw any conclusions.  We need a systematic study to be conducted by an impartial third party.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 08:13 | 2288127 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture




Only one little problem with your link ORI.....hardly worth mentioning.....there's no honor amoung thevies.


Yamashita’s gold if it existed is long gone.....much like the gold in Fort Knox.


The gold in Fort Knox has not been audited on decades now.......Ron Paul called for an audit this year.


How far did Ron get ORI?


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 12:12 | 2288431 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Precisely nowhere Getzee.

The question is Gone? Where? To whom? Aliens? Underground?

It has to be somewhere. What good is it as a hidden asset?


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 04:33 | 2288046 Western
Western's picture

"Unnecessarily putting fear and trepidation into the hearts of PM investors. Isn't it obvious?"


This forum is full of gold and silverbugs looking for all the latest metals info, and you're worried we might lose faith? Presumably you're a gold bug because you're acting like this is in a metalbug's best interests, but you're not saying the right things.


Something don't smell right. I don't like you, dear fellow.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 13:08 | 2288577 CH1
CH1's picture

Unnecessarily putting fear and trepidation into the hearts of PM investors. Isn't it obvious?

Dude, you're arguing for ignorance... almost for enforced ignorance.

That's a bad position to take.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 14:32 | 2288722 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Caveat emptor. What is wrong with reminding people of the need for due diligence, when/if they keep stacking?

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:03 | 2287816 deflator
deflator's picture

As most gold bought back by dealers (and all bought by scrap dealers) ends up getting re-refined or sold to manufacturing jewelers,

 Are 1 kilo bars usually in the mix of what gets sold to jewelers or what is bought back by dealers?

 I think the thrust of the article is not what the quality of the gold is in "circulation" but what is sitting in vaults and is "financialized" in day to day paper trading.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 14:37 | 2288729 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

I suspect the bar in question was the product of a criminal gang.

Yeah, Government

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:16 | 2287687 Decolat
Decolat's picture

With so much gold kept so secret, how can you or anyone know that? 


Of course, how could we know you're wrong, either? Too bad nobody has the flak to challenge countries and big investors to allow private audits to their secret stashes. 


But denying audts implies something's not right.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 02:49 | 2287978 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Right on Decolat.

Three Olympic sized swimming pools, the watery lie that the whole edifice of gold is based on. If that fails, the entire edifice falls apart.

I wonder how many audit's have been done of Indian Royal Houses and Temples. Forget whatever fraudelant figure GATA or some other patsy throws out. How about Indian house-holds? And then Yamashita's gold, Nazi Gold, Vatican Gold.... on and on and on.

At the expense of three-peating myself:



Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:54 | 2287739 GottaBKiddn
GottaBKiddn's picture


The whole point of the article was that it wasn't all that rare, because it was, after all, simply counterfeiting. Furthermore, it pointed out that not only did people know that the coins were polluted, they were "ordered" to use them. Sounds like a favor to me.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 07:09 | 2288087 onthesquare
onthesquare's picture

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 10:35 | 2288260 hivekiller
hivekiller's picture

You're full of crap. There were reports of tons of gold plated tungsten that were made and sold on the market during the Clinton administration. How do you think he paid for the million dollar wedding of his ugly daughter? Summers and Rubin were in on it.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 11:17 | 2288318 Chupacabra-322
Chupacabra-322's picture

@ hivekiller,

Bricks of gold found gutted and filled with tungsten -

Roughly 15 years ago – during the Clinton Administration [think Robert Rubin, Sir Alan Greenspan and Lawrence Summers] – between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten blanks were allegedly manufactured by a very high-end, sophisticated refiner in the USA [more than 16 Thousand metric tonnes]. Subsequently, 640,000 of these tungsten blanks received their gold plating and WERE shipped to Ft. Knox and remain there to this day. I know folks who have copies of the original shipping docs with dates and exact weights of “tungsten” bars shipped to Ft. Knox.

The balance of this 1.3 million – 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten cache was also plated and then allegedly “sold” into the international market.

Apparently, the global market is literally “stuffed full of 400 oz salted bars”.

“LONDON, April 14, 2004 (Reuters) - NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd., the London-based unit of investment bank Rothschild [ROT.UL], will withdraw from trading commodities, including gold, in London as it reviews its operations, it said on Wednesday.”
Interestingly, GATA’s Bill Murphy speculated about this back in 2004;

“Why is Rothschild leaving the gold business at this time my colleagues and I conjectured today? Just a guess on my part, but suspect:”


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 21:23 | 2289562 0z
0z's picture


ZH is not doing PM investors any favors by publicising this unusual happenstance.


Shut the fuck up! You're the reason I like buying bullets, facist!

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:41 | 2287628 Transformer
Transformer's picture

This was not done by the bankers.  It happened before, and it was done by robbers. Some slick operator did this.  If you can't trust the LBMA vaults, and Fort Knox, who can you trust?

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 01:23 | 2287918 jeff montanye
jeff montanye's picture

at a guess, something that faces honest competition, that is audited by a disinterested party, that doesn't fight transparency tooth and nail.  but you knew that.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 01:55 | 2287945 Xkwisetly Paneful
Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Obviously a false flag event put out there by the evil zionista bankster brigade to lessen confidence in PM and even if it isn't if I post that enough it will become true.


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:00 | 2287810 peekcrackers
peekcrackers's picture

Take your chances on the shiny or take it dry with the banks


The new York Times March 24 2012 The Age of the Shadow Bank Run

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 01:33 | 2287927 jeff montanye
jeff montanye's picture

the linked article is not bad, especially for the nyt.  it should mention reorganization of insolvent financial institutions though.  that bullet must be bitten sooner or later, and the later the greater the pain.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:28 | 2288004 Die Weiße Rose
Die Weiße Rose's picture

The greatest gold swindle

The true story about one of this state's biggest frauds involving gold mines has been told for the first time in a new book which has just been launched.

The story of the Taranganba Gold mine is that of corruption and fraud at the highest levels. It's a true story that has been uncovered after one hundred and twenty years. Local author John Peach has written the story of what a former Premier of Queensland Robert Philps called 'The Biggest Ever Mining Swindle in the Colonies'.

The main figure in the story is Robert Ross who claimed to have found gold at Taranganba - but what he created was a scam that fooled many high profile figures in Australia. John Peach has spent years going through legal and archival records to put together this complex history. "There were quite a few swindles. There was a million pound company formed to mine gold at Taranganba and it went on for three years. There was never any gold.

There were other companies formed, and another million pound company. There were four other mines all more or less claimed to be finds of Robert Ross. The Ross family were pioneers, they came to this area in 1862 and Robert was one of the sons," says Mr Peach. "Robert Ross found his gold in the same year as Mt Morgan was incorporated into a public company which was 1886 and there were great celebrations all over the world because at that stage Mt Morgan was a million pound company which was the biggest ever launch and people that owned it took all the shares so there were no public shares for sale. So when Robert Ross was looking for investments in gold in the late 1880s, everyone was looking to invest. A lot of money from overseas being invested in Australia so the banks were bulging with money so that was good timing on his part." "They invested in the company which was formed by a group of people from Sydney which included the Premier of NSW and a few other Ministers and very important people and that's where the investments went.

Robert Ross got his money for his mines, plus he got shares in the companies. The people that lost money later on were actually investing in the Taranganba Gold Company Ltd which was a Sydney Company." "Robert Ross of course raked it in. He also sold shares, he had a third of a million pounds worth of shares which he also sold to many dignitaries and friends and anyone that came along with a lot of money, including Robert Philp. Robert Philp was the one that is responsible for the expression 'the biggest gold mining swindle in the colonies' because Robert Ross sold him 5,000 shares and Philp was later Premier of Queensland and he certainly knew he had done his money."

So was Robert Ross ever brought to justice? "Not on Earth. The biggest mystery is probably just how Robert Ross managed to get through so much money so quickly. We know he made a tremendous income and he managed to spend a lot of it. He must've been a great gambler I think. The only justice that ever caught up with Robert Ross is that a year later he had a stroke and a year later he was dead. He was buried at Taranganba in 1893."

By Jacquie Mackay 9 September, 2008 11:40AM AEST

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:43 | 2287285 FEDbuster
FEDbuster's picture

I have a bunch of tungsten filled AP bullets, they are precious metals, too.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:55 | 2287314 Turd Ferguson
Turd Ferguson's picture

First of all, thank you to ZH for publishing this important story. Also, big kudos to the SilverDoctors for bringing it to light in the first place!

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 19:51 | 2287416 Chaffinch
Chaffinch's picture

Thanks for the link Pladizow. What if gold money are using ultrasound to test a bar of solid tungsten which has just been given a thin coating of gold (rather than a bar which has been drilled out and filled with tungsten rods)? Would ultrasound still work?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:04 | 2287438 SubjectivObject
SubjectivObject's picture

In time, rather than surface contact probes (as is likely what is referred to so far), test instruments will be the immersion (in water) type, which makes it easy to scan the entire surface area to the edges or very near so of any shape (flat are easiest in any case).  A competant operator with a correctly configured and calibrated system should be able easily to characterize the presence of hidden W irrespective its morphology.

All which beggs the question about transaction costs and certification of operators and methods going forward.  I would anticipate that bullion house should already have this methodology, unless they have found better.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:24 | 2287601 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

There's some supposition in saying it's been drilled and filled with tungsten.  

Maybe the back was shaved and it was machined out, with the filler being rods because.the manufacturer had rod stock to work with.    Maybe the gold was cast around the rods and the certificates were forgeries.

The production time on the method used could give an indication of how widespread the problem is.  

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:46 | 2287636 Transformer
Transformer's picture

I'm a machinist.  This was done by drilling out the bar from one end, and then pressing precisely sized tungsten rods into the holes, then carefully covering up the drilled end with a  torch and some gold.  there is no way the holes could be drilled and then molten tungsten poured in, as tungsten's melting point is very high, it would have melted the bar.   Someone was a bit sloppy in checking the weights.  Perhaps this is part of the batch of bars linked above from the London robbery in 1983, where the robbers took good bars and did this to them.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:13 | 2287753 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Something about the numbers doesn't seem right. The way the story reads, this was a supposedly legit bar which had been tampered with. Transformer's explanation of the process makes sense, due to the different melting points of the metals.

This would result in the bar's pre-tampering and post-tampering volume being identical. The near-room-temperature density of gold is 19.30g per cc, and that for tungsten is 19.25g per cc, so the tampered bar would be very slightly lower in mass than the untampered bar.

This is where something doesn't make sense, and I concede that it may be my math. For a 1000g bar to be underweight by two grams, its tungsten content by volume would need to be approximately 75 percent.

The specific figures I came up with, in terms of gold/tungsten ratios, are:

70/30: about 999.2228g, or about .77g light.

60/40: about 998.9637g, or a little over 1g light.

50/50: about 998.7047g, or about 1.3g light.

25/75: about 998.0570g, or about 2g light.

The estimate in the report was 30 to 40 percent tungsten by weight. The density of gold and tungsten are nearly identical, so for practical purposes this should indicate about 30 to 40 percent tungsten by volume as well. However, this would only leave the bar about a gram underweight.

The pictures appear to reveal 30 to 40 percent tungsten by volume, so the bar being two grams underweight doesn't match up with the other information.

(I would appreciate it if anyone so inclined would check my math against their own calculations.)


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:06 | 2287824 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

The perps were a little light on the gold when they resealed the end where the bar had been drilled. Maybe they were in a hurry or didn't bother to weigh it (or maybe someone clipped it?) Could've been two sets of thieves.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:36 | 2288017 BooMushroom
BooMushroom's picture

Small air pockets with a combined volume of .0519mL would further reduce the mass of the bar by 1 gram.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 06:06 | 2288067 tyrone
tyrone's picture

There is a way to get the weight of the forged bar EXACTLY correct by adding precise amounts of a third metal which is heavier than both Tungsten and Gold.  Suppose that one added Depleted Uranium to the mix in a precalculated weighed amount.  The final weight of those bars could be exactly as if it were pure gold.

Not sure about the availability of DU nor what residual amount of radioactivity remains in the metal and could be detected by a scan. Availability is not a problem for a certain entity who would have much to gain by producing these forgeries.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 07:11 | 2288090 schatzi
schatzi's picture

"Not sure about the availability of DU": Metal detector + vicinity of burnt out tanks & APCs + somewhere along the Kuwait-Baghdad highway = profit

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:21 | 2287762 indygo55
indygo55's picture

I agree Transformer. I too am a machinist and I work with Tungsten every day. The raw material is always mixed (ballmilled) with between 6 and 15% cobalt and pressed or extruded into a preformed shape using heavy presses. The preformed rod in this case is the consistamcy of hard chalk, you can snap it in your hand. But when you sinter the rod (high heat vacuum furness) it shrinks about 20% depending on the "grade" and becomes a grind ready rod of extremely high compressive strength, ready to be ground, in many cases, into a "solid carbide" drill or endmill with hardness second only to diamond. Indeed diamond wheels are used to finish grind them. But the whole thing is "powdered metallurgy"; the tungsten never actually melts. Its the cobalt that melts and is the "glue" that holds millions of tiny tungsten particles together.

Point is I think the presintered rod is the process here and the light weight may likely be due to the fact that it was only about 90% Tungsten and may offer another way to detect the forgery. Also Cobalt has it's onw identlty issues which is another discussion.


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 01:56 | 2287948 defender
defender's picture

I think that you are both wrong about this being drilled out.  With the gold bar being that thin, and the tungsten rod so close to the surface, the gold should have very noticably swelled (deformed outward) where the holes were drilled.  It would have taken a lot of pressure to return the bar to its origional shape, and that would have marred the surface.  I don't see evidence of either artifact, which makes me think that this bar was cast with the tungsten in it.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:33 | 2288012 Id fight Gandhi
Id fight Gandhi's picture

I agree it was CAST. Even though it's 2 grams off its still a it's still 2/10ths of 1% within weight. Drilling and forcing rods into it would give you a much wider range of going over or under.

It's simply too difficult to drill it out and stay within a consistency without damaging the rods or deforming the bar.

That being said, this could be a FAR worse problem.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 10:24 | 2288250 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

I have a hard time believing the 'drilled bar' theory for the same reasons (ie - the rods are so close to the thickness of the bar that it seems likely the bar would have been deformed).  

I'm curious as to what happened to the original 'good' bar though?    Was it used to make the doctored bar (perhaps with the back shaved down and slots cut to hold the rods)?   Or were the serial numbers and assay marks added to a purpose-built fake bar?  

And was the assay certificate forged or real?    The article claims the paperwork was original/legitiate.   But of course, the bar was presented as legitimate also.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 22:00 | 2289727 aphlaque_duck
aphlaque_duck's picture

If you replicated the refiner's entire casting and serializing process, then you could melt down the real bar and use that gold to make the salted bar.

Then you have the original assay card, and there's still only one bar with that serial number in existence. 

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 12:29 | 2288484 indygo55
indygo55's picture

You don't seem to have any direct experience with machining. Gold is soft so a drill, properly selected will easily remove the material leaving no deformation at the surfact. I make tools that take a six hundred pound block of alumuinum down to wafer thin bulkheads for aircraft you can lift effortlessly by machining 90 percent of the material away. And ANY deformation is unacceptable. No, this was drilled matching a drill to readily available tungsten/cobalt preformed rods, that are cheap and available. I could do it in under an hour. Including the torching and remelting covering the ends. A simple hand buffing operation will hide any traces. I see how easy this is and this is scary.

By laying the rods in a mold and pouring the gold over them requires standoffs (perhaps of gold) to keep the rods from being too close to the surface. Much more difficult.


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 14:52 | 2288761 defender
defender's picture

I actually do have direct experience with machining, though it isn't my primary line of work.  You are making the mistake of applying the machining of extremely hard aircraft aluminum with the machining of uber soft gold.  This would be the equivilent of machining pure copper, ie soft, very maleable, and galls all day long.  Also, how are you going to keep the metal chips that form at the bottom of that hole from causing problems?  Casting, while not easy, is just the better way to do this.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:34 | 2287623 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1 Pladizow from me as well for sharing.

I guess the question for us little guys is when does it become feasible to fake Gold Eagles?  That will really be a day that sucks...

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:51 | 2287644 Transformer
Transformer's picture

are you kidding?  You can buy them right now from China.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:02 | 2287666 barliman
barliman's picture


Just a guess?

If you own a minting operation and have the capability to buy Gold Eagles in sufficient quantities, smelt some down and use them to coat tungsten blanks and then trade a mix of pure & counterfeit Eagles back into the overall system.

Any decent size nation could do it , in theory ...


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:53 | 2288032 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

i've heard there are companies in china that boast about their expertise in plating gold over tungsten, and they'll make anything you want.



Sun, 03/25/2012 - 11:25 | 2288331 jekyll island
jekyll island's picture

Ah hell, now all these people are going to go to the ER complaining they are pregnant but in reality they want to ultrasound their gold.  

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 14:41 | 2288737 Rotwang
Rotwang's picture

The video hunts for inserts. It will detect those.

What the video doesn't detect, is solid tungsten with a plating.

It makes no mention of measuring the absolute speed of sound through the thickness of the bar.

Inconclusive test.



Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:30 | 2287778 erumisato
erumisato's picture

The cards don't lie.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:29 | 2287253 Pladizow
Pladizow's picture


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:08 | 2287449 Jendrzejczyk
Jendrzejczyk's picture

Good point.

(stolen from another ZHer)

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:45 | 2287290 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

The subterfuge is silent but deadly.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 19:09 | 2287347 Captain Benny
Captain Benny's picture

Too many people replying seem to have no idea what this is in reference to... those people should watch a few episodes of Southpark and learn how beneficial a money market account at their local bank can be...

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:19 | 2287470 t_kAyk
t_kAyk's picture

did you just watch south park? 

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:42 | 2287522 Taint Boil
Taint Boil's picture



There's never just one cockroach in the kitchen.

Everything is a lie - ROFL - wow, big fucking surprise


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:27 | 2287774 FrankDrakman
FrankDrakman's picture

Not enough SP fans to get the reference. I gave you an up arrow, though.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 04:03 | 2288036 Idiocracy
Idiocracy's picture

I have it on good authority that JPM's silver bars are filled with pink slime

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 01:15 | 2293493 ClipperBASIC
ClipperBASIC's picture

It would be interesting to crack open a few more bars from the same maker to test your theory.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:58 | 2287662 Edelweiss
Edelweiss's picture

 I've read reports off of coinflation about fake silver eagles, and mercury dimes.  Underweight chinese pandas have also appeared.  Evidently someone thinks even low cost silver is still worth faking.  I put any pm I buy on a scale for my piece of mind. 

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:49 | 2287733 natty light
natty light's picture

Also therre are fake Morgan and Trade dollars that were counterfeited contemporaneously, that is at that time, still flo ating around. 

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:48 | 2288030 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

last week someone tried to sell me some fake silver coins, peace dollars and us trade dollars. they looked about right (i've bought a fair amount of junk silver), but the peace dollars felt light. and the big giveaway? the 5 trade dollars all said "1797" on them, but according to wikipedia the coin wasn't designed until 1873.

bizarre, that someone would take the trouble of making a fake coin yet not get the date right. good thing criminals tend to be real dumb.


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:59 | 2287182 Mesquite
Mesquite's picture

Some 35-40 years ago I came across a fake quarter.. Am told fake dollars are appearing now..Beware..(Drop test on solid surface disclosed the quarter..)

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:06 | 2287576 UP Forester
UP Forester's picture

I'm guessing it was right around....  1965?

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 09:33 | 2288190 Revert_Back_to_...
Revert_Back_to_1792_Act's picture

LOL! @ Ethan. 

Bring back the "Trial of the Pyx".

King George V ran a much tighter ship.


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:59 | 2287184 sampo
sampo's picture

Silver bars are also usually at some point used in the industry, so I guess you couldn't get away with it too long with it.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:26 | 2287234 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Basic road test

 Yes, the same thing SHOULD be done with silver, wich is : buy it now. Buy more later.

Faked gold bar or 600$ AAPL? The future is made of physical metal...

Tungsten value is poised to explose too... Ask nothing less than pure tungsten.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:21 | 2287237 max2205
max2205's picture

Duh. They spelled Spitszerland wrong....

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:43 | 2287286 Likstane
Likstane's picture

You missed it Freddie.  There was a documentary on TV about Mooslims rehypothecatin' pre64 dimes and selling to the Joos.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:07 | 2287579 UP Forester
UP Forester's picture

Was it on TV?  Freddie don't watch no TV....

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:32 | 2287618 ljag
ljag's picture

This type of tungsten cannot be stamped into a coin....too brittle. Only poured bars can have tungsten inserted into them.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:43 | 2287721 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Tungsten can be powdered and pressed into a coin shape.

You can buy fakes from a Chinese website, as I recall.  Meant to be gag gifts.  Supposedly.  Maybe.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:32 | 2288010 savagegoose
savagegoose's picture

therres a tone of fake silver morgsns out there this guy has a bunch of videos on how to detect them

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:32 | 2288011 savagegoose
savagegoose's picture

therres a tone of fake silver morgsns out there this guy has a bunch of videos on how to detect them

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:04 | 2287069's picture

A quick conductivity check or eddy current testing can confirm whether a bar of gold is polluted with tungsten.


Does this differ from the failed test mentioned in the article?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:11 | 2287087 Vampyroteuthis ...
Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Archimedes principle is the quickest. You don't need fancy methods to point out fake PMs. Just a scale.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:14 | 2287092's picture

The great ideas of mankind have often originated in the bathroom.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:30 | 2287129 navy62802
navy62802's picture

Just ask Warren Buffett. :-P

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:44 | 2287162 Pinto Currency
Pinto Currency's picture


The XRF test mentioned is X-Ray Fluorescence and it is used to test the purity of the gold on the surface.  It would not pick up the internal tungsten bars.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:42 | 2287520 smiler03
smiler03's picture


Sun, 03/25/2012 - 15:06 | 2288785 prole
prole's picture

If XRF Doesn't work  past the surface- why do businesses bother with the insanely expensive gear at all? (XRF)..   Acid testing can test the surface and it's cheap near free. (though dangerous)

Oh- Acid testing scratches permanently, not suitable for coin use.

But how deep, does XRF testing go? Deep enough for coins? 1 ounce coins? Non?

This is depressing.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:41 | 2287154 Manthong
Manthong's picture

So what’s more phony..

A GM bond, a Greek Government Bond, a BLS  statistic, an MF segregated account, a White House layered pdf certificate of live birth, an FRB Chairman promising not the monetize the debt, or a  tungsten filled gold bar?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:43 | 2287160 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

A birth certificate.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:11 | 2287210 CompassionateFascist
CompassionateFascist's picture

All are converging symptoms of civilizational collapse.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:38 | 2287277 Oracle of Kypseli
Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Just buy silver and gold coins of 1oz or less. Cost prohibitive to fake and easy to dedect.

Just get a good balance scale, put a good coin of a kind on one side and a suspect coin of same kind on the other.

For us little people buying kilo bars are suicidal.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:11 | 2287453 Manthong
Manthong's picture

For the guys junking -- if it’s because of the birth certificate item…

Dudes,  I personally opened up that graphics file in Adobe Illustrator from last year and was shocked when I saw the layers and started moving the altered objects around.

I was taken aback as much by the incompetence demonstrated in posting a constructed graphic of manipulated elements as much as the fact that the document itself was a forgery.

We are in very, very deep doo doo.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:25 | 2287489 nmewn
nmewn's picture

I didn't junk it.

But to me, what's more phoney is O'Barry appearing in front of an oil pipeline nearing completion, that he had absolutely nothing to do with and proclaiming he is going to get all the bureaucratic red tape out of the way.

Apparently this is a very complicated maneuver involving turning the valve to the on position in

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 04:19 | 2288043 Sokhmate
Sokhmate's picture

I always wondered about this. The thought that came to my rescue is that such obviousity of the fakation of the certitiquette and the fact that it was rudily availabable for any any to velify and exhuamine is, in and off its elf, a brazine mockerity of the shoople

Tink about it.
Exqueeze my spleening. I'm shrunk.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:24 | 2287487 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture



You're right about buying 1-ounce coins, but there's a faster and easier way to test them:


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:50 | 2287541 smiler03
smiler03's picture

Here's an interesting site about those Fisch things and some cheaper alternatives.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:11 | 2287591 UP Forester
UP Forester's picture

Or, cheaper yet, just send 'em to me.  After about a week, I'll tell you they're all fake, but were all lost canoeing down a swollen river....

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:53 | 2287651 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

This is all you need to test a variety of gold coins:

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:56 | 2288033 TacticalZen
TacticalZen's picture

If you happen to reload your own ammo, then you already have a highly accurate powder scale and a micrometer.  Using data published in common coin books you can both weigh and measure the coin.  If it is off by more than a few tenths of a gram, or a couple of thousands of an inch, it might be suspect.  Granted, it is not as good as many other more sophisticated methods - but if you have the two tools I mentioned it costs you nothing.

This way, your investment in reloading gear helps you with yet another precious metal.  Two for one.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 08:44 | 2288151 hamurobby
hamurobby's picture

A person can buy a cheap digital gram scale for $20 dollars and a micrometer for about the same. For about the cost of one silver eagle you can verify your coins and rest easy. My cheap gram scale is acurate to within hundreths of a gram, and the size of one ounce coins or less makes it practically impossible to forge without detection. Anyone who does not weigh and measure their pm is asking to loose alot more than $50. I did this before I lost it all to heavy drinking and bad gambling debts. I did have a boating mishap but luckly for me I knew from reading ZH that transporting that stuff on a boat was not a good idea. In a few years I may  restart a collection again as I still have my scale and micrometer.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 16:41 | 2288986 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Yeah.  Sure.   You can put one of these gadgets in a shirt pocket.  No moving parts, batteries, and they are cheap.   As a coin dealer I find these easy to use at coin bourses or other venues where dragging out the hardware you guys are mentioning is a task.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:23 | 2287481 t_kAyk
t_kAyk's picture

I am in the market for a unicorn.  If I happen to stumble upon one, I will give you the heads up.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:22 | 2287112 New World Chaos
New World Chaos's picture

The Archimedes test can't distinguish between gold and tungsten.  That's why they chose tungsten.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:27 | 2287118's picture

If you know the correct volume of a coin or bar and the correct weight and these don't match then you know you've got a problem.

In this case the volume was correct as the dimensions of the bar had not changed but the weight was off by 2 grams.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:31 | 2287131 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

you'd need better precision than just a printed scale on a test tube and your eye judgement. you'd need a laser meter.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:40 | 2287153's picture

Laser meters for everyone!

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:45 | 2287164 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture could just buy a machete and slice the suspect coin/bar in half.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:46 | 2287167's picture

Couldn't you just bite a coin like they did in the old days? That's not to say that one can eat gold, of course.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:11 | 2287207 noses
noses's picture

I want to see you stuff a kg bar in your mouth an thoroughly chew it until you find the creamy taste inside...

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:14 | 2287220's picture

If you provide the kg, I'll give it a go. I imagine that the sample will be completely destroyed by my testing, however.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:22 | 2287241 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

Sounds like the Pilot for a reality show on ZHTV

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:48 | 2287534 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Keeping Up With The Tungstenians?

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 23:56 | 2287806 Arrowhead
Arrowhead's picture

 All this talk has me worried. I am a stand up guy in the community. Good as gold, as they say. My bookkeeper gives me head roughly twice a week. Can my wife figure it out when I'm in the hot tub or on the scales? Please advise.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 08:06 | 2288122 nmewn
nmewn's picture

lol...I think you need to give your book keeper a raise about a month before you close up shop or your wife will own your ass-ets ;-)

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 15:01 | 2288775 Hulk
Hulk's picture

She gets the tungsten...

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:45 | 2287728 tmosley
tmosley's picture

They never did that.  If you tried, you would break your teeth.  Nevermind that if there were tungsten in there, you would DEFINITELY break your teeth.

If you are going to test it that way, much better to use a steel knife or some such thing rather than a precious body part.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:26 | 2287491 t_kAyk
t_kAyk's picture

just bought a machete.  has a sawback and it's a heavy bastard.  free gold slicings, i keep the shavings!! 

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 03:42 | 2288025 Die Weiße Rose
Die Weiße Rose's picture
Police actions praised in foiled gold swindle

Cooperation between police on both sides of Australia is being credited with foiling an attempted $14 million swindle from the Perth Mint.

It is alleged the Uniting Church Trust Association of New South Wales was fooled out of $14 million by people pretending to own a prominent Sydney building using forged title deeds.

The thieves then used a mortgage cheque to place an order for 605 gold bars at the Perth mint, through a bullion dealer and the gold was flown to Sydney.

However, the mint and the security firm looking after the gold became suspicious and alerted police.

The head of the gold stealing detection unit, Senior Sergeant Peter Feast, says the plan was foiled due to cooperation between police on both sides of Australia.

"In most occasions in dealing with fraud, people aren't aware of them being stung until after the actual exercise," he said.

"This fortunately enough was able to be stopped before it actually happened, so we're just very proud we're able to deal with this industry and have got this relationship."

Senior Sergeant Feast says if the plan had been successful it would have been the biggest gold fraud in WA history.

"It is 10 times bigger than any other swindle that's been done on the mint," he said.

Senior Feast says despite cooperation between WA and New South Wales police to stop the theft, those responsible are still on the run.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:24 | 2287115 seek
seek's picture

Archimedes will pass with a bar like this as pure gold, the specific gravity of Tungsten is too close to gold.

The bar in this story apparently passed an X-ray flourescence test, which may not have been done very well. It almost certainly would have failed a test by an ultrasonic thickness gauge. One of the reasons I use a UTG.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:49 | 2287132 New World Chaos
New World Chaos's picture

XRF only measures the composition of the surface.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:37 | 2287146 Freegolder
Freegolder's picture

'Almost certainly'.



Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:12 | 2287214 seek
seek's picture

The uncertainty depends on the type of UTG and where you probe. The UTG I use for coins has a pretty small probe size (ideal for coins), so it's theoretically possible you could probe between tungsten rods and "miss" the tungsten in the sample.

If I were dealing with gold bars on regular basis, I'd get a full-on ultrasound scanner, not a simple probe. IIRC correctly one of the major gold houses uses a ultrasonic profile scanner for acceptance testing of 400oz good delivery bars. There is ZERO possibility that a full scanner would miss a tungsten-filled bar, and just a slim one that a handheld probe would.

The bar in the picture would pass a handheld probe at the edges, but would fail spectacularly if the probe sampled the middle. One of the reasons I probe several spots even on coins.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:20 | 2287236 nikku
nikku's picture

The problem is false positives. Cast bars can and do frequently have small air pockets. Also... smarter forgers might not be so greedy as to fill an entire bar--just a small piece here and there perhaps? And there are other issues fully described at Only one non-destructive assay methodology that can "see through" a bar.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:37 | 2287275 ouchtouch
ouchtouch's picture

Goldmoney found 10 bars in their vault that didn't pass the ultrasound test.  No mention of how many, if any, were false positives.  They just melted them all down and re-cast.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:41 | 2287283 seek
seek's picture

Actually an ultrasound imager (as opposed to a probe) will see through a bar just fine, and is used routinely for NDT of mission-critical welds (reactor piping, etc.) Imaging scanners are just not in the affordability range for the average gold buyer.

But more specifically, I deal with coins, and if there's flaws like air pockets in a coin, I'm going to reject it instantaneously. If I dealt in bars I'd reject them, too. The refiner can always go back and re-melt, or someone else can take on the risk.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 19:58 | 2287407 Slewburger
Slewburger's picture

I think regular UT scans would pick up on this type of tampering. The only thing the UT transducer sees is back wall reflection.

As you move over the tungsten the difference in the sound velocities therefore material attenuation would raise a false back wall (shallow depth to defect) or accelerated return compared to the reference blocks.

Phased array shouldn't be necessary

But Olympus would be happy to sell it to you.

This is a regular concern for inconel that gets overlayed into valves and flanges.

Just to play devil's advocate:

I don't know tungsten's reference velocity, but if its close to gold and a piece of tungsten was dipped, it may be nearly impossible to check with UT.Because the first .030 to .060" of returns signal are transducer noise. So you may get a clean flawless scan of... tungsten.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:10 | 2287454 seek
seek's picture

Tungsten's reference velocity is way different than gold. The way I check coins is to calibrate to the material (in this case 90% AU/CU) and then see if the measurement matches the coin under test. The speed of sound in tungsten is so radically different it would be incredibly obvious, it's not a couple percent difference. I also use calipers to confirm the coin is to spec.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:26 | 2287860 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

Young's modulus is also radically different between the two. It can be measured nondestructively fairly simply.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 21:06 | 2287575 tarsubil
tarsubil's picture

Couldn't you make glassware specifically for 1 oz gold coins (or 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 oz and 1 kilo, etc etc) that would be able to discern the difference (down to ~.1 ml)? Maybe there is a market for these. A simple balance and a piece of glassware would make for easy and quick checks.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:48 | 2287732 tmosley
tmosley's picture

What kind of idiot would use XRF for that?  Any operator worth their salt would know that that analysis method only penetrates a few dozen microns at best.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 17:41 | 2287157 CatoTheElder
CatoTheElder's picture

Nope, it won't work without extremely accurate measurements.

The density of 0.999 gold is 19.30 gram/cubic centimeter. The density of tungsten is 19.25 gram/cubic centimeter.

Both the volumetric and the mass measurements must be significantly better than +/- 0.25%. If the bars were drilled out and filled with 50% W, then measurement would have to be signigicantly better than +/- 0.1%.

By "significantly", both measuements would have to be something like +/- 0.01%. Theoretically this is no problem, but in practice it is.

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 00:33 | 2287871 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

It's not trivial to completely fill holes drilled in a gold bar with a tungsten rod.   It's much easier to cast the gold around the tungsten rods or, even better, a tungsten bar.  Sintered tungsten rods may not be quite as dense as a cast one.  Cast tungsten rods or bars are more challenging due to the very high melting point of tungsten.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:06 | 2287192 Mesquite
Mesquite's picture

Oh yeah..? Check your Periodic Table of the Elements..Tungsten is within couple decimal places of gold's specific gravity..Why do you think the fakers use Tungsten..It's all a matter of record..I believe the latest safe test is using ultrasound..Not sure..GE, I believe is marketing a machine for the purpose..


Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:39 | 2287279 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

GE knows W.

According the wiki entry they attempted to patent it in 1913.

Not sure where this knowledge fits into economic advice provided to the Obama presidency....

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 18:30 | 2287262 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

Someone motivated could easily defeat the displacement test by adding some platinum to make up for the lower density of tungsten.

Sat, 03/24/2012 - 19:30 | 2287389 Sabremesh
Sabremesh's picture

If you get the percentages right, an alloy of tungsten and platinum (approximately 97% to 3%) has exactly the same volumetric weight as gold. Neither the best scales in the world or your archimedes principle will help you out then.

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