Large gold trader warns of counterfeit product

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Vietnam's largest gold trader, SJC, on Thursday alerted the public that counterfeit products bearing the company logo are circulating on the market.

The company has offered to verify the quality of all gold bars bearing its brand name, free of charge.

Real SJC gold bars are 99.99 percent pure, while counterfeit products have less gold content, between 95 percent and 98 percent, the company announced at a press briefing.

With gold values hovering at around VND29 million per tael, buyers of these counterfeit gold bars can expect to lose some VND1 million on every one-tael bar they purchase, the Ho Chi Minh City-based company said. A tael is equal to 1.2 ounces of gold. 

SJC also warned that some sellers are shaving a small amount of gold off the four corners of SJC bars, robbing buyers of between 0.7-1.2 grams. The trick allows these sellers to skim VND1.1 million off every one tael.

While it is easy to spot a gold bar that has had its corners sheared, buyers may find it difficult to tell the difference between a real SJC gold bar and a counterfeit one, the company said.

Nguyen Thanh Long, general director of SJC, said his company has been trading gold in Vietnam for 20 years and has produced a total of  600 tons. SJC dominates the trade, Long said, with approximately 80 percent of the market. 

There has never been any quality issues with SJC products over the years, Long said.

"We decided to alert local consumers because this is a new problem," he said, noting that company sales could be affected.

Long said that SJC will improve its product design next month to foil counterfeits.

The company advised gold buyers to request a receipt for every purchase. The receipts should feature a product serial number printed on it to protect buyers.

Vietnam is one of the world's largest gold consumers. Home and land used to be evaluated and traded mainly in gold.

Since its value has skyrocketed, the precious metal gradually lost its popularity in daily trading activities. Many Vietnamese continue to purchase and keep gold as a means of savings.

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