ICTA Board of Directors Member Mike Fuljenz Goes to Washington to Support the Collectible Coin Protection Act
Mike Fuljenz with Rep Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Rep Jimmy Hayes (R-LA)
I was among a half dozen of the country's numismatic leaders who met in Washington, DC on June 28, 2012 with Congressional leaders and staff members to discuss the importance of the proposed legislation to protect the public.
The bill was introduced on June 20, 2012 by co-sponsors Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), Chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. (It has bipartisan support). HR5977 will strengthen the 39-year old Hobby Protection Act, a law that helps combat counterfeits. We need to bring that law into the 21st century because of new issues that were not even contemplated decades ago.
Mike Fuljenz with Rep Jimmy Hayes (R-LA) and James Quinn, Chief of Staff to Rep Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
I urge every rare coin and bullion coin collector or investor to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to co-sign and vote for the Collectible Coin Protection Act, HR5977. It will go a long way in combating counterfeits in the marketplace, and could save buyers money and heartbreak.
To find the name and contact information for your local member of the United States Congress, visit www.House.gov and click on "Representatives."
Our customers can take comfort in the fact that I am a member of the ICTA Board of Directors and a former authenticator, grader and educational seminar instructor for the Congressionally-chartered American Numismatic Association. Unlike many other coin companies, the coins you buy from us are looked at by a recognized expert.
"LET US PREY…"
By Mike Fuljenz
HR5977 is very personal to me. One day in 1984, a prominent physician walked into my office, his surgical greens still stained with blood and amniotic fluid, and dropped a big safety deposit box on my desk. "Tell me these are not counterfeit," he implored. I opened the box and pulled out ten coins. After a quick examination of them, I told him, "Four of these are butter, six are Parkay." I could tell by his grimace that my comment was not funny to him. Regardless of the bad news, he wanted me to examine more of his coins. He requested my assistance in this matter because he knew that for almost two years, I had worked for the American Numismatic Association (ANA), teaching grading and giving counterfeit detection seminars. To substantiate my opinion we also sent the coins to the ANA for their evaluation. Unfortunately for my doctor friend, the ANA validated my original assessment.
The Crook Was a Lawyer
The man who had sold these coins to the doctor (and many of his physician friends) was a local attorney. Because he was making so much money selling counterfeits to these unsuspecting doctors, he had practically shut down his practice. He haunted coin shows using the ruse of buying counterfeits "for jewelry." Dealers knew him as "the guy from the south who buys counterfeits." Nobody suspected he was selling them to medical professionals as genuine.
The lawyer's deception incorporated another element to further deceive his victims; he played on their religious beliefs. He went to mass with my doctor friend and all the while was selling him bogus coins. The Lawyer’s brother was the monsignor at one of the local Catholic churches, they went to a Medjugorie retreat together, the doctor delivered his children, and they became godfathers to each other’s children. When the attorney had triple bypass surgery, the unsuspecting doctor left his own work to comfort the recovering attorney in the hospital. During the lawyer’s recovery the defrauded doctor sat there with this man who had been systematically defrauding him with counterfeit coins and using their friendship to hoodwink other doctors into buying his counterfeit coins.
When the doctor and law enforcement became aware of the fraud and confronted the lawyer with their suspicions, he broke down in humiliation and shame, assuming a near fetal position right in front of them. In the end, the attorney returned over a half million dollars to the various doctors he had swindled. His remorse however, did not preclude him from making a threatening call to me (as the bearer of bad tidings, I assume). Much to our dismay the Secret Service prohibited us from donating any of the counterfeit gold coins to the American Numismatic Association for teaching purposes.
"I Wish There Was Something I Could Do For You"
After everything was settled, the doctor said to me, "Mike, if there is anything I can ever do for you, please just ask." I had not charged anything for the services in helping him recover his money. I did it for gratis, because it was the right thing to do. I just wanted to help get rid of this crook, and in the process, remove this blemish from the numismatic industry that I am so much a part of.
In the process, I became good friends with this doctor. Later, my wife and I learned from him we could never have children. If we were ever going to have children, we would have to adopt. My doctor friend took this opportunity to now help me. He said to me, "Mike, now I can do something for you.” With his help and perseverance, my wife and I went about the process of adoption.
A couple of months later, we received our first baby through him, a son. Twenty months later, we received another call from him telling us a baby girl had come up for adoption. We were finally a happy family of four. I often think that in part it was the exposing of the counterfeit coins that blessed us with having the wonderful family that I now enjoy. Out of evil and grief, God in his providence brought joy and peace. This is why HR5977 is very personal to me!
Mike’s Note: "My father was a fine Catholic attorney and I am past president of the Diocese of Beaumont Catholic School Board. So, no disrespect to attorneys or Catholics is intended by this article."