WEST PALM BEACH (CN) - A stamp and coin collector claims he lost $70,000 buying "counterfeit coins made in China [which] are imported to the United States for the sole purpose of defrauding potential buyers."
Battling Ph.D.s are duking out the disputed coin sale in a complaint in Palm Beach County Court.
Robert Friedman claims David Broxterman found him on the Internet and lied about the value of a coin collection to sell it.
In his complaint, Friedman says he placed an ad in philatelic journal and Broxterman contacted him via email to offer him a $1 million stamp collection for $100,000.
On his website (drbobstamps.com), Friedman describes himself as "a major international buyer of outstanding philatelic properties [who] has over thirty years of experience conducting philatelic appraisals."
Friedman says he met with Broxterman to examine the stamp collection in Broxterman's home, on Nov. 13, 2011. At the meeting, Friedman says, Broxterman told him that he, Broxterman, had a Ph.D. in business and a college professor.
The complaint states: "After it was apparent that Friedman was not interested in making any offer for the 'Broxterman Family Stamp Collection,' Broxterman proceeded to solicit Friedman's interest in a coin collection that, according to Broxterman, Broxterman's grandfather had begun during the 1930's, passed on to Broxterman's father in 1986 upon the grandfather's death, and then inherited by Broxterman upon his father's death in 2008.
"Broxterman emphatically stated on numerous occasions that the coin collection was a very valuable collection, worth far more than $100,000 and even more than the value of the stamp collection. He stated that the coin collection had not been touched since he inherited it in 2008.
"Friedman explained to Broxterman, in no uncertain terms and on numerous occasions, that although he considers himself to be an expert in stamps, he only had a superficial or basic knowledge of coins.
Broxterman, at the same meeting, then showed Friedman the coin collection. Much of the material was housed in approximately sixty (60) old expensive looking specialized coin books which had spaces for every denomination of United States coins ever issued by the United States government, dating back to the 1700's. Included in the collection were comprehensive collections of half pennies, pennies, two cent pieces, three cent pieces, nickels, half dimes, dimes, twenty cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, and dollars. Many of the denominations were complete or almost complete with a coin or many coins for each year, often back to the 1700's. The coins appeared to be produced by the United States government and therefore appeared to be legitimate United States currency."
Friedman says the coins' professional-looking holders, or "slabs," stated that they part of well-known coin collector John Work Garett's collection and that their condition had been assessed, or graded, by World Coin Grading.
"Friedman asked Broxterman if he thought any of the coins might be counterfeit and he was told by Broxterman that they were not," the complaint states.
"Broxterman stated he was willing to sell the coin collection for $100,000, much less than the collection was worth, only because he was having financial problems and because his home was under water. ...
"In reliance on representations made by Broxterman ... Friedman ultimately agreed to purchase the coin collection for $70,000. A $42,000 check and $28,000 in cash was paid to Broxterman, who provided Friedman a written receipt for the cash received."
Two weeks and 2 days later, Friedman says, he found out he had been had: "On November 29, 2011 Friedman had the coin collection reviewed by an expert in coins, Andrew Reiber. Mr. Reiber concluded that most of the thousands of coins, including all of apparent major value, were counterfeits of United States government- issued coins, produced in China over the last twelve years. He stated that counterfeits of various collectibles, including United States coins, are being made extensively in China, some of which are highly identical to the originals. He indicated that counterfeit coins made in China are imported to the United States for the sole purpose of defrauding potential buyers.
"Mr. Reiber also evaluated the approximately 200 slabbed coins and stated that he is not aware of any professional grading company called World Coin Grading. Mr. Reiber further opined that someone had gone through great effort to deceive a potential buyer by placing the counterfeit United States coins into expensive slabs with fabricated descriptions by a non-existent grading company, and inscribing the words 'This coin was part of the collection of John Work Garett' on the slab. Mr. Reiber opined, if the counterfeit coins had been actual United States coins, the value of the collection would be around $10,000,000 (ten million dollars). Still further, records have been found in Broxterman's handwriting with his signature indicating that he indeed had substantially studied and researched the true value of the coin collection."
Friedman wants his money back, and treble damages for fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, civil theft, and unjust enrichment.
He is represented by Peter Capua of Miami.
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