Hamilton coin collectors and pawn shops are getting duped.

Police are warning that fake U.S silver eagle dollar coins have been circulating in the city and have been sold to various establishments over the past few months.

"You wouldn't be able to tell the difference (with) the naked eye. The coins are actually very high quality fakes," Const. Mike La Combe said in a Hamilton Police YouTube video. "They are silver and nickel-plated, which gives them the look of an actual silver dollar. However, when you cut them open,  you can clearly see on the inside, they are brass filled."

The video shows some of the roughly 500 fakes that have been confiscated so far.

"They are worth practically nothing, just a couple cents each," La Combe explained.

LaCombe is a pawn unit investigator and says the coins are being bought online, then sold at "golden" times for the seller when shops are busy or with little staff. During the rush, employees may not have the time to do all the proper authenticity checks, giving criminals the chance to sell fast without getting caught.

"Only buy them from reputable dealers, a place that is established, an expert who works there who knows the difference between real and fake. Don't buy them off the internet. and don't buy them from people from the public who aren't considered experts because more than likely you're going to get a fake," added Le Combe.

Hamilton Police: real vs. fake

  • Real coins should all weigh the same, fake coins have varying weights.
  • Liberty female's head is different on a fake coin compared to that of an authentic coin.
  • Stars on the reverse of the coins above the eagle and shield are further spaced apart on a fake, in contrast to a real coin.
  • Lettering on the fake coin is thinner and less-defined than the real coin
  • "Scratch" test-filling a part of the coin away to reveal the interior alloy of the coin will often expose the brass on the inside, confirming it is fake