Accused has history of court battles concerning counterfeit coins
By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
On Wednesday, April 11, Interim United States Attorney Greogory G. Brooker–as well as the Minnesota Commerce Department–announced that Barry Ron Skog, the 67-year-old owner and operator of Burnsville Coin Company in Burnsville, Minnesota, had been indicted in U.S. District Court on five counts of the sale of counterfeit coins and one count of mail fraud. The federal indictment, filed on April 10, alleges that between June 2012 and October 2015, Mr. Skog sold counterfeit coins to customers who responded to an advertisement the defendant ran in the weekly coin publication Numismatic News. Once a potential victim responded to the ad, which mischaracterized the counterfeits as genuine, rare and valuable, Skog would mail a list to the respondant of his “available” inventory that included several counterfeit coins.
The defendant made his first appearance in court on the matter the same day as the announcement, appearing before Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The indictment lists three victims whose names are represented by their initials only. Each count of the sale of a counterfeit coin represents a specific item Skog is alleged to have sold between July of 2014 and September of 2015. The coins listed are as follows:
- Counterfeit 1853 Seated Liberty dollar (July 2014)
- Counterfeit 1885 Seated Liberty half dollar (November 2014)
- Counterfeit 1844 Seated Liberty dollar (August-September 2015)
- Counterfeit 1875 Seated Liberty silver 20-cent piece (August-September 2015)
- Counterfeit 1873 Seated Liberty half dollar (August-September 2015)
Skog would often pretend to be a Burnsville Coin Company empoyee named “Ron Peterson” when communicating with the victims of his scheme, though no such employee works for the company (indeed, Skogs himself is the only owner and employee of his coin dealership).
As for the one count of mail fraud, this is in reference to the November 15, 2014 shipment of the counterfeit 1885 half dollar mentioned above.
Over the course of three years, Skogs is alleged to have received more than $80,000 from the scheme.
If Skogs were to be convicted on the charges contained within the indictment, he would face fines or imprisonment of up to 15 years maximum or both. Skogs would also have to forfeit any counterfeit numismatic objects still in his possession, as well as the equipment and other assets used to produce such counterfeits–not to mention any property Skogs procured as a benefit of his alleged scheme. If the counterfeits themselves or the associated property are unavailable, then the United States is authorized to seize substitute property of equivalent value in accordance with U.S. Code.
Per the indictment, about 3,000 “numismatic and current U.S. and foreign coinage and tokens, and approximately 78 bills of collectible paper money” would be subject to forfeiture at this time.
The grand jury charges as given in the indictment were based on an investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and the Burnsville Police Department. Two members of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force also played a role.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota. Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda M. Sertich is in charge.
If you or someone you know may have been affected by this scheme, please contact the Fraud Bureau at (615) 539-1617, as there may be potentially more victims out there who have yet to be identified.
Skog is also known to have sold coins out of an antique store in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Collectors Universe Judgment
According to the ICTA press release, Collectors Universe (parent company of PCGS) won a default judgment against Barry Ron Skog in April 2011, wherein a federal court permanently enjoined from importing or manufacturing counterfeit PCGS holders, as well as selling any kind of coin (real or counterfeit) in fake PCGS holders.
Collectors Universe filed the civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California on December 7, 2010. It alleged that Skog had sold counterfeit coins over the course of the previous four years without the COPY mark as required by the Hobby Potection Act. Besides these violations of the Hobby Protection Act, the lawsuit alleged violations of the Lanham and RICO Acts, as well as the California Unfair Competition Law.
Further Minnesota Indictments
Interestingly, this is not the first numismatic-related indictment to be handed down in Minnesota recently.
On March 6, charges were filed in U.S. District Court against David Thomas Rougier, 45, a former Lakeville, MN investment adviser and insurance agent for a scheme involving fraudulent gold and silver investments. One count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud are leveled at Mr. Rougier.
According to the filing, Rougier is alleged to have offered to buy gold or silver for his potential victims, with the promise that a third party has guaranteed to purchase these precious metals for a set price at some time in the future. The allegations state that between the years 2010 and 2017, Rougier’s alleged scheme victimized more than a dozen people (mostly older). Instead of buying the silver and gold like he had said he would, Rougier used the approximately $740,000 money he allegedly took in to enrich and entertain himself.
The investigation into Mr. Rougier’s alleged wrongdoings was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau. In 2012, the fraud Bureau had revoked Rougier’s licenses to offer security and insurance products.
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