Lawmakers Ask FTC and U.S. Mint to Combat 9/11 Commemorative Coin Scams

by Darrin Lee Unser on January 25, 2011 · 2 comments

A New York Senator and Congressmen are asking the federal government to put a stop to the practices of a company which they think "deliberatively misleads customers" in regards to 9/11 commemorative coins being sold.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler are asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the operations of National Collector’s Mint located in Port Chester, NY. The company is currently promoting the sale of its "10th Anniversary September 11th Commemorative Dollar" with ads that the two think are deceiving.

On the company’s website, the pieces are listed as Liberian government authorized legal tender coins clad in 14 mg of pure 24-karat gold. Additional descriptions indicate that a skyline of the Twin Towers and a silhouette of the U.S.S. New York "are clad in a total 14 mg .999 pure silver actually recovered from the vaults beneath the ashes of Ground Zero."

Schumer and Nadler refute the claims of National Collector’s Mint stating that it has failed to prove the silver was actually recovered from Ground Zero. They also question the representation of the inclusion of precious metals in the coins, stating the value of those metals is currently less than 60 cents.

"National Collector’s Mint has no shame," stated Charles E. Schumer, Senator from New York. "By deceiving consumers into buying these worthless ‘9/11 commemorative coins,’ this company is preying on the memories of that tragic day, generating millions in profits, and diverting potential funds to finance the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. We are calling on the FTC to crackdown on this unscrupulous company and send a loud message that profiteering off of a national tragedy will not be tolerated."

Schumer and Nadler have asked the FTC to shut down National Collector’s Mint’s 9/11 coin operation and investigate them to "put an end to sales of these phony coins once and for all."

"As we approach the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we worry in particular about a proliferation of scams seeking to exploit the 9/11 tragedy for profit," stated US Senator Schumer and US Representative Nadler in part in a letter to the FTC. "We ask that you do everything within your authority to stop such scams. Commemorative coin scams may not be new, but the 9/11 coin scam surely represents an all-time low by reaping profits from our national tragedy."

A driving force behind the recent request is the pending release of up to 2 million 9/11 Commemorative Medals struck by the United States Mint. These medals were authorized by legislation named the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Commemorative Medal Act which was introduced by Representative Nadler and signed into law (Public Law 111-221) by President Obama on August 6 of last year.

The United States Mint will offer the medals directly to the public with a $10 surcharge added to each sale. That surcharge will be forwarded to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center to support its operations and maintenance following its completion. Schumer and Nadler feel that the availability of the pieces from the National Collector’s Mint also detracts from the pending sale of the US Mint’s medal.

Consequently, an additional letter was sent from Schumer and Nadler to the United States Mint requesting that a notice be posted on its website informing the public about other 9/11 coins. The letter states:

We write today to alert the United States Mint to the spread of misleading television, print and internet advertisements for phony 9/11 commemorative coins. These advertisements, which describe the coins as "legally authorized government issue" made with steel from the World Trade Center and clad in pure gold, appear to be outright lies.  
We are aware that the United States Mint plays a vital role in protecting consumers from fraudulent and deceptive practices by listing ongoing scams on your website. We ask that you do everything within your authority to stop this scam, including listing the sale of these phony 9/11 commemorative coins on your website, to ensure that collectors do not fall for this consumer trap and purchase coins that have been marketed to them under false pretenses.

Commemorative coin scams may not be new, but the 9/11 coin scam surely represents an all-time low by reaping profits from our national tragedy. Moreover, every dollar spent on these phony coins is a dollar that could go to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

In 2010, we introduced and passed legislation authorizing the striking of up to 2 million silver medals, to be issued throughout 2011 and 2012. The purchase price of the medals, to be determined by the U.S. Mint based on the cost of production, will include a $10 donation to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. The donations from sales of the official silver medals will provide a significant source of funding for the operation and maintenance of the September 11 Memorial and Museum. The continued sale of phony 9/11 coins would seriously undermine that funding.

We urge you to list these phony 9/11 commemorative coins on your website and to act swiftly so that the sale of this virtually worthless product stops once and for all. This scam threatens the economic viability of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. More importantly, however, this scam demeans the memory of 9/11 and the thousands of innocent civilians and first responders who died that day. We respectfully ask that you shut down this shameful scam.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

The National Collector’s Mint is currently offering the coins for $29.95. The company has issued a statement stating their advertising of the 10th anniversary 9/11 commemorative "is not deceptive and is clearly presented."

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Victor January 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

How stupid does one have to be, to buy anything labeled, “A Tribute to the 9-11 Victims?” If the public is that gullible and naive, then they deserve to be fleeced. “Nuns” with paper cups, begging for money! “Legless war veterans” begging for money! “Fraternal Order of some fictitious law organization” asking for money for cops orphans and widows!
Schumer and Nadler are grandstanding camera hawks!

jose carrillo March 8, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I am one of who got screwd by the national collectors mint , and I mean really screwd because I haven’t receive anything from them and its been more than two months , so if the ftc is gonna stop them ,also they gonna make them do refounds ? Or do we gonna just take it and learn from it ? Well I hope nobody else falls for this cons

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