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If there's money involved, there's going to be scams, and there's no shortage of them in the gold IRA industry.

Many bad actors out there will take advantage of investors who do not understand the complexities associated with investing in gold or setting up retirement accounts of this kind, which makes it important for those looking into these options to know how to recognize a potential scam.

In this blog post, we'll talk about five scams involving Gold IRAs that you should watch out for—not only does knowing them protect your hard-earned retirement money from being funneled away, but it also helps improve the industry as a whole through greater transparency.


What Is A Gold IRA Scam?

A Gold IRA scam is a fraudulent scheme that targets individuals looking to invest in gold through Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). This scam often involves making false promises or misleading guarantees, and it may also involve using unqualified or unethical "experts."

Gold IRA Scams

Common tactics used by scammers include overstating the potential profits from investing in gold and offering "guaranteed returns" or other incentives that are too good to be true.

They may also claim that they can sell gold for higher prices than the market value, which is generally impossible.

Ultimately, investors who fall for a Gold IRA scam can lose a large portion of their funds and may even be left with nothing.

To avoid falling victim to such scams, it is important to research before investing in gold and always ask questions if something doesn't seem right.

Additionally, working with reputable Gold IRA companies or financial advisors is essential when investing in physical gold. Contact the relevant regulatory bodies and law enforcement immediately if you believe you may have fallen victim to a Gold IRA scam.  

Gold IRA Scams can be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or your state's Attorney General office. It is also important to keep detailed records of all your dealings with the scammer, as this can help with any investigations or legal action.

By being aware of these common scams and taking all the necessary precautions when investing in gold, you can protect yourself from falling victim to a Gold IRA scam. Gold IRA scams and schemes are increasingly prevalent in today's investing world. As a potential investor, it is important to know the different types of fraud that could befall you.

5 Common Gold IRA Scams

Here are 5 of the most common Gold IRA Scams:

1. The Bait-and-Switch Gold IRA Scam

A bait-and-switch scam is a fraudulent sales tactic in which a seller advertises one product or service but then tries to sell the customer a different, more expensive product or service. This scam is often used in the gold IRA sector, where sellers may advertise low-cost gold coins or bars but then try to switch the customer to more expensive products, such as rare coins or coins with high premiums.


The bait-and-switch scam typically works like this:

  1. The seller advertises a low-cost gold product, such as a 1-ounce American Gold Eagle coin.
  2. The customer calls the seller and expresses interest in the product.
  3. The seller then tells the customer that the product is out of stock or that the price has increased.
  4. The seller then tries to sell the customer a more expensive product, such as a rare gold coin or a coin with a high premium.

The seller may use a variety of techniques to pressure the customer into buying the more expensive product, such as:

  • Claiming that the more expensive product is a better investment.
  • Saying that the more expensive product is in high demand and is likely to appreciate in value.
  • Offering the customer a discount on the more expensive product.

If the customer refuses to buy the more expensive product, the seller may simply cancel the order.

Common Gold IRA Scams

If you think that you have been the victim of a bait-and-switch scam, you should contact the seller and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You may also want to consider filing a lawsuit against the seller.

2. Damaged or Shaved Coins, Rounds, and Bars

Damaged or Shaved coins, rounds, and bars are a common form of gold IRA scam. This type of fraud involves buying coins, bars, or rounds at a deep discount due to damage done to them.

These coins often appear to be in pristine condition but can be seen as having teeth marks or small chips in them upon closer inspection. The coins may also have been sanded down to reduce the amount of metal used in the coin, thus reducing its weight and gold content.

Scammers will use these damaged or shaved coins to cheat buyers out of their money.

They may try to pass off the coins as if they are full-bodied pieces and sell them at a much higher price than their true value. In addition, some scammers may also offer coins that have been counterfeited and try to pass them off as authentic pieces. 

Buyers must be aware of this gold IRA scam and take extra steps when purchasing coins or bars. Buyers should always inspect the coins, ask for a certificate of authenticity, and make sure they purchase from a reputable dealer. American Hartford Gold is a trusted source for gold coins, so you can be sure to get the right ones.

In addition, buyers should use an independent third-party appraiser to help verify the coins' value and quality. This can help buyers protect themselves from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous sellers.

3. Counterfeit Coins

Counterfeiting gold coins is an age-old problem, but it has been increasingly targeted in recent years. In particular, a popular scam targeting investors looking to open a Gold IRA (individual retirement accounts) involves counterfeit coins.

The scammers often advertise on social media and offer deals that sound too good to be true. They then use fake coins or other objects disguised as gold coins, only to leave the investor with a worthless product. 

Counterfeit Coins

The scam is often difficult to detect because it can be hard to tell whether the coin offered is real. To protect yourself against this kind of fraud, it is important to buy your coins from a reputable dealer with an established track record.

You should also get a written appraisal of the coins before you make any purchases or have them authenticated by an independent third party. Finally, look for warning signs such as low prices or rushed transactions that suggest something is wrong. 

4. Selling IRA-Ineligible Gold

One of the most important things to note is that not all types of gold are allowed in an IRA. Gold coins and bars must meet specific purity standards set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), known as "fineness," and must also be approved by the IRS.The IRS requires that precious metals in an IRA be at least 99.5% pure gold, silver, platinum, or palladium.

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous gold dealers may try to take advantage of investors that are unaware of this by offering them gold coins or bars that are not approved for an IRA.

These coins or bars may be of lower quality and purity than what is allowed in an IRA, and the IRS may also confiscate them. Therefore, it's essential to only purchase gold from reputable dealers who can provide proof of their legitimacy.

Our precious metals IRA guide can help you make informed decisions for your retirement.

5. False Grading

False Grading Gold scams are a type of fraud that defrauds investors by misrepresenting the quality and value of gold investments. In this scam, victims are lured into buying gold coins or bars that have been falsely graded as being a higher purity than what they contain.

The scammers typically overvalue these items, charging a much higher price than what the gold is worth. Furthermore, they often do not provide any documentation or proof of authenticity to back up their claims. 


In many cases, these "falsely graded" products have been misrepresented as collectables or rare silver coins and bars with a much higher value than normal bullion coins or bars. This allows the scammers to charge a much higher price for their products, often with buyers not realizing they are being taken advantage of until it is too late.

Gold investments are usually considered a safe haven asset and a wise investment. Unfortunately, as interest in gold and silver products as retirement investments increased, scams targeting retirees interested in precious metals have also increased.

To avoid becoming the victim of this type of scam, it is important to make sure that any gold investments you make are backed up with documentation and proof of authenticity from a reliable third party. It’s important to research the bullion you are purchasing and ensure that the product's purity and quality match what the seller is claiming.

Scam-Free Gold IRA Companies

augusta precious metals logo

# 1 - Augusta Precious Metals (Most Trusted)

Augusta Precious Metals is our top gold IRA company recommendation. They have a great reputation, are great for high networth individuals, and have been around since 2012. They are almost completely focused on precious metals as their name suggests. Augusta Precious Metals is extremely well rated by both the Better Business Bureau as well as the Business Consumer Alliance. 

How we rated Augusta

We gave Augusta Precious Metals 5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.


  • Best for high networth individuals
  • 100% 5 stars at ratings firms (as of 2022)
  • Great pricing and waived fees


  • High minimum investment amount ($50K)
  • Less gold selection than some dealers
  • Not as good for beginners
american hartford gold logo

# 2 - American Hartford Gold (Best Customer Service)

American Hartford Gold is easily one of the most trustworthy gold IRA dealers, with near pristine ratings and reviews online, great product inventory, and super a super helpful team with great customer service. It's obvious they care about their customers. On the other hand, if you're looking for platinum or palladium, you're out of luck. We gave AHG 5 out of 5 stars. 

How we rated American Hartford Gold

We gave American Hartford 5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.


  • Pristine reviews and ratings online
  • Great selection of coins and bullion
  • Lots of great promotions & low minimums


  • Pricing is not transparent on the website
  • No platinum or palladium products listed
  • Unclear if they will price match with competitors
birch gold logo

# 3 - Birch Gold Group (Best Choice For New Investors)

Birch Gold Group is a company with almost two decades of history. They’re gold IRA specialists with a great reputation that charges low fees and has an excellent as well as easy buyback program. Birch Gold Group is recommended for new investors since they’re easy and efficient to work with, have low fees and you can start a gold IRA with them for as low as $10,000. 

How we rated Birch Gold

We gave Augusta Precious Metals 4.5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.


  • Competitive fees and great pricing
  • Awesome customer onboarding experience
  • Great selection of precious metals


  • Some negative reviews online
  • Large minimum account size
  • Not much info on leadership
lear capital logo

# 4 - Lear Capital (Trusted and Established)

Lear Capital is one of the oldest names in the gold IRA industry. Founded in 1997, Lear has made a name for itself for many years as a trusted provider with a solid reputation in customer support and account management. We recommend them for all your gold IRA needs, but if you're looking for platinum or palladiums, look elsewhere.

How we rated Lear Capital

We gave Lear Capital 4.5 Stars based on a number of factors, including: Team, Pricing, Support, Security, and Selection.


  • Excellent customer service and support
  • Transparent and competitive pricing
  • Easy account opening process


  • High fees for smaller investments
  • Limited focus on gold and silver only

How to Avoid Gold IRA Scams?

We can help you avoid getting scammed and make sure your investment is safe.

Research any Gold IRA company you are considering working with thoroughly before making any commitments. Be sure to check our Gold IRA reviews, both positive and negative, as well as the Better Business Bureau rating.

Gold IRA Scams

About the author 

Sam Rexford

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