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How To Make Fake Gold Bars
Recently the national bank of Ethiopia discovered that much of the gold in its possession was fake. It was simply gold-plated steel. It found this out after it sent a shipment of gold to South Africa, which promptly sent it back.

Theo Gray, writing for popsci.com, points out that it's incredible that a national bank fell for a fraud like this, since simply by picking up the gold bars someone should have noticed that they were too light to be real -- gold being much heavier than steel.

Gray then considers a potentially very useful question: how could you create a fake gold bar that would be convincing enough to pass the pick-up test? The solution he comes up with is to use tungsten, which is about as heavy as gold, but much cheaper:

start with a tungsten slug about 1/8-inch smaller in each dimension than the gold bar you want, then cast a 1/16-inch layer of real pure gold all around it. This bar would feel right in the hand, it would have a dead ring when knocked as gold should, it would test right chemically, it would weigh *exactly* the right amount, and though I don't know this for sure, I think it would also pass an x-ray fluorescence scan, the 1/16" layer of pure gold being enough to stop the x-rays from reaching any tungsten. You'd pretty much have to drill it to find out it's fake.

Gray notes that it would cost about $50,000 to produce a fake gold bar in this way. But the bar, if accepted as real, would be worth around $400,000 -- which would be a pretty good return on your investment.
Business/Finance
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 16, 2008
It would be interesting to find out just how many of these gold-plated door stops Ethiopia has on hand... Maybe Madonna, Brad Pitt, or Angelina Jolie might do a benefit fundraiser for this bank to recover their losses... or perhaps George Bush will just jump in there and commit to some sort of bail-out program for the US taxpayers to foot the bill for...
Posted by Christopher  in  Warm, sunny Florida  on  Sun Mar 16, 2008  at  08:45 PM
I think this is what brought Bear Stearns stock down to $2/share this weekend.

Christopher said:

[P]erhaps George Bush will just jump in there and commit to some sort of bail-out program for the US taxpayers to foot the bill for."

Nah, that's reserved for big money crooks in THIS country.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Mar 17, 2008  at  04:25 AM
Ha! Thanks for keeping your readers informed on the best way to profit from hoaxing!

Now if you had planned ahead just a bit, you would have included an ad for where to obtain tungsten cheaply...

grin

http://www.joyfuldigesting.com/
Posted by Tee  in  New York  on  Mon Mar 17, 2008  at  10:03 AM
I thought Bear Stearns collapsed because its assets were insufficient to cover its liabilities in the face of an increasing number of 'cash calls' by some large investors. Basically, they had neglected to cover their ass when taking out several large investments. Which, when you think about it, is rather ironic for a company called 'Bear Stearns'.
Posted by David B.  on  Mon Mar 17, 2008  at  01:05 PM
Hi Alex,
It is the old(2007) story about an artist who tied up a dog and let it die without food and water at exhibition.
Is it true or not - so difficult to say.
I hope dog is safe.
Also interesting that nobody from Big news print this story, it is alive only in blogs.

To find out - google "Guillermo Vargas". There are pictures, story, and always link to petiotion.
Posted by ccc  on  Mon Mar 17, 2008  at  02:39 PM
I suppose another way to do it would be to alloy the gold with some cheaper metal. That way the bar would be uniform throughout, so having the bar drilled or scraped wouldn't ruin the whole plan. On the other hand, it would be more vulnerable to chemical tests, and you'd probably get a much smaller profit margin on your scam.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Mar 17, 2008  at  04:36 PM
David B. said:

"I thought Bear Stearns collapsed because its assets were insufficient to cover its liabilities in the face of an increasing number of 'cash calls' by some large investors. Basically, they had neglected to cover their ass when taking out several large investments."

Well, yeah, but I was making a JOKE! Sheesh. smile
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Mar 17, 2008  at  09:10 PM
Well don't keep us in suspense, post the punchline!
Posted by David B.  on  Tue Mar 18, 2008  at  10:03 AM
It's just occurred to me that the plating scam could run into problems if the speed of sound in tungsten is different to the speed of sound in gold. If it is, a cheap ultrasound scanner, such as those used in hospitals would be able to quickly and non-destructively test a suspect bar.
Posted by cthelmax  on  Fri May 16, 2008  at  04:14 AM
Yes, the speed of sound in tungsten is double that in gold. Therefore there should be multiple test to reveal fakes. One test could simply be to knock on a freely hanging bar and listen to the response. The lowest frequencys sent out in a pure gold bar would be lower than that in a mixed tungsten/gold bar.
Posted by Jonas  on  Mon Sep 22, 2008  at  05:37 PM
If what the two previous posters are saying about the speed of sound difference between gold and tungsten, then if it was in a coin form, the tungsten fake should ring differently than the authentic gold coin. That's a good idea to test.

As for the Ethiopian gold plundering...the gold was likely real when it first entered the vault. Over time, real gold bars were switched out for the fake ones. Since guards probably only looked through the door, the bars looked real. Some Ethiopian government official has the real bars sitting in a Swiss vault with their name on the door.
Posted by Concerned Citizen  on  Thu Oct 15, 2009  at  08:48 PM
Since tungsten has less than 25% of the conductivity of gold, would seem a simple conductivity test would expose a fake bar immediately without the need to start assying bars.
Posted by Market Sniper  in  los angeles  on  Tue Mar 02, 2010  at  11:50 AM
Unless you drilled into the bars, any real gold on the outside of the bar would conduct electricity around the tungsten. Check out this video, which shows they have now found a tungsten filled gold bar and publicly shown what it looks like:

http://beforeitsnews.com/story/21272/German_ProSieben_TV_Channel_Finds_500_Gram_Tungsten_Bar_At_W.C.Heraeus_Gold_Foundry_With_Bank_Origin.html
Posted by Concerned Citizen  on  Wed Mar 03, 2010  at  01:48 PM
Fight back

Google: ultrasonic gold Pamp

Start now.

Best for all.
Posted by apms55  on  Fri Mar 19, 2010  at  02:17 AM
No the gold bars came from the US originally. USA>>>>>>>China>>>> and then around the world.
Posted by Tony  in  Sydney Australia  on  Thu Sep 23, 2010  at  05:45 PM
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