Dangers of buying on the Internet, scammers and conmen
May 2007

The scan below typifies the dangers of buying or investing in coins on the Internet.

It grieves me that I have to be so blunt about the numismatic scammers and conmen who inhabit the web but unfortunately they appear in the most unlikely of places.

In this case the seller, known as "The Banker"* on BidorBuy a South African Internet auction service, is selling a coin with a value of just US$8 or less than ZAR60. Yes that's right "Banker" has placed a coin on a bona fide auction at the starting price of ZAR10,000 (or about US$1,500).
(*actual name Herman van Noordwyk an elderly small time coin dealer in Cape Town)

Don't be fooled by his caption "get ripped off properly" Banker has listed the coin and, by doing so, anticipates doing just that!

Another example of Herman's scams can be seen at this link - in this scan he offers a Griquatown Penny for ZAR175,000 - about US$30,000 (Reserve) after paying just US$3,500 for the coin the week before in a Heritage auction (June 2007). You have been warned!

Not many scams are so obvious on the Internet but they do happen. Many sellers offload cleaned or otherwise blemished coins through online auction houses because their photograph posted with their listing does not reveal all the coins secrets.

Getting back to "Hermanus" the irony is that he presents himself as the "honest policeman" on BidorBuy's forum. He associates with people like Alex Urizzi of New Age Numismatics based in Risana, Johannesburg who has been banned from Bid or Buy because of his scams resulting in his failure to meet his commitment to buyers and because of his personal threats against those who dare complain.

Both Alex and Hermanus use cyber-bully tactics on Bid or Buy to try and blot out dissent... in the case of Herman the Bid or Buy moderator recently posted this on the auction house's forum:

Herman the banker,

I sincerely trust that the next post by you on this forum is in a civil tone.

Here is what I expect of you:

You have blatantly ignored my warning by continuing to harass other members. One more post to the contrary and I will have to exercise my authority on this forum.

BoB Admin, moderator 

While Alex's blatant threats of physical attacks on other coin collectors has left the numismatic community in South Africa gob-smacked.

Here is a comment by a fellow numismatist who was threatened earlier this year by Hermanus' close friend Alex Urizzi:*
He (Alex) also phoned me at home and told me he was going to take my head off. This does sound a bit like what was offered to Scott Balson at the Airport. Alex does have Kickboxing as a sport. I have reasons to take such threats seriously and let everybody know the style of this man.

*Source: Bid or Buy Forum.

Yes, its true, when Alex revoked on his commitment to buy a set of Strachan and Co trade tokens in January 2006 he launched a very personal and threatening assault on me through the Internet. This assault was escalated by Alex following a disagreement over my comments about the rightful place of the Griquatown coins in South African numismatic history. Included in his threats were to meet me at the Jan Smuts International Airport in Johannesburg when I arrived in September last year and beat me up.

Unsurprisingly Hermanus' rating with buyers on BidorBuy would restrict his use of major auction houses like eBay and Alex has been banned from the Bid or Buy online auction house.

Be warned of these types who inhabit the web - because they are many.

Finally, with regards to S Africa be careful of their suspect postal system - even registered items go missing - not good for those wanting to look at building a serious collection from that country.