PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Daryl Casson thought he found a pretty good deal. Solid silver bullion at a price just below market value. So he met up with a man who had advertised the silver on Craigslist.
"I looked at them, I weighed them. They looked perfect, they weighed perfect and I bought them," Casson said.
Casson has some experience investing in precious metals and was sure he'd gotten a good buy on high quality silver bullion.
But when a friend in the precious metals business heard of Casson's great deal, he was wary, telling him to bring him the bars for testing. "I tested mine, they were all fake," said Casson.
Counterfeit silver bullion and coins are flooding the internet as producers in China mint the phony valuables and sell them online as novelty items. But the fakes look and feel very real.
The bars Casson bought were nothing more than ceramic plated with silver. They sold at 25 to 50 cents apiece. Casson paid $21.50 apiece for 100 of the bars.
But Casson didn't take the scam lying down. Because he drove from Bremerton to Fife to buy the bars, he contacted Fife police telling them what happened and arranged another buy from the online seller. When the seller arrived at a restaurant parking lot to make another deal, officers were waiting for him.
"He admitted that he knew they were fake, said that he bought the items online from a company in China," said Fife police Lt. Tom Thompson.
Casson said he felt compelled to come forward about the fakes and warn others. "I'm really embarrassed about it and the only reason I'm bringing this up is I don't want other people to get taken advantage of," said Casson.