WARNING: Fake Platinum Bars

20 Feb 2018

We are aware that over a number of years there have been numerous, apparently fraudulent offerings of large quantities of fake platinum bars in various styles – in particular bars purportedly manufactured by Johnson Matthey bearing an inverted horseshoe mark. Usually the offers have originated in East Malaysia and have centered around Indonesia. The common thread has generally been the “horseshoe” brand and AZL18. Such a brand of Johnson Matthey platinum does not exist.

It is impossible to accurately estimate the number of “horseshoe” bars in circulation. However, the quantities offered are often out of all proportion to the amount of platinum that could possibly be in existence. Commonly they have been for tens, hundreds or even thousands of tonnes. Mostly the offers are routed through small traders and individuals unfamiliar with precious metals or platinum. Forged certificates, mostly of a poor and amateurish nature, have been provided and a variety of different methods and forms of contracts have been proposed attempting to arrange a “deal”.

Whenever we had the opportunity to make a physical examination of this type of bar they have always been manufactured of cheap base metal, typically a high grade stainless steel. The degree of technical skill shown in manufacturing the bars is considerable.

To avoid purchasing counterfeit platinum products we recommend that you always make a purchase from a reputable source and that you always verify hallmarks and serial numbers wherever possible. A quick and very approximate test you can perform to check the genuineness of a platinum bar is to measure the dimensions of the piece in centimeters. Multiply together to give the volume in cm³. Multiply the volume by the density of platinum, 21.45 grams/cm³. This will give you the theoretical weight that the bar should be if it is really platinum. If the actual weight is less than 85% of theoretical, then it is probable that it is not platinum.

Another quick test, since most of these fake bars are made out of stainless steel, use a super strong magnet to see if it would stick to the suspect bar. Real platinum is non magnetic and if the magnet is attracted to the bar, chances are the metal contains iron, with little or no platinum. You can easily purchase super strong magnets for about RM 6.00 from DIY shops or stores such as Daiso.

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