Common types of fraud and how to avoid them

Vigilance and verification key to avoid being duped

In Summary

• The Internet makes it easy for unscrupulous dealers to buy counterfeit gold from black markets anonymously.

Fake Gold
Fake Gold
Image: Ozone

The Chamber of Mines chairman CP Mwangi says most victims of fake gold do not follow the set-out laws.

“Let Kenyans be advised against buying gold or gemstones they don’t know. Let us not buy such items but take to the ministry’s laboratories for testing before committing any money,” he said.

“What people are buying on the streets is brass, which once cooked, looks like gold. Some items are gold-plated, of which, unless you cut through, you will always think it is gold.”


Precious metals company Zen Gold also warns of common types of frauds, which has been noted in cases brought to court by complainants.

The first type noted is sellers asking the buyers to pay upfront costs, like taxation fees or shipping fees.

“Do not even send letter of introduction to the business unless you want to find yourself in a case on illegal immigration,” reads their report.

Scammers can also ask the buyer to create a payment or financial instrument, claiming it would only be used upon sealing of the deal.

These, they say, can be monetised or used as proof of funds to purchase real gold, which will be provided for testing to confirm that the mineral is genuine. However, fake gold will be packed and shipped.

Some fake dealers, usually backed up with fake court documents, lie that they inherited the gold from their deceased father but they need some cash to release it.

International Minerals Junkie says the Internet makes it easy for unscrupulous dealers to buy counterfeit gold from black markets anonymously.


“Thick gold plating or a solid gold layer around a tungsten core is the most effective fakes. It fools a density test and weight test I believe. Super thick plating or an outer gold layer will fake acid test unless they scratch cut deep enough,” notes Matt Hammons from the organisation.

He adds, “To detect it, you have to do a X-ray or drill a fresh hole into it. You can't rely on a hole you didn't drill yourself because some people pre-drill a hole then plate it. You can't rely on serial numbers or packaging because they have been able to fake them."