(Beware the big sharks if you're a fish.)
I wrote an earlier version of this article a while back for the Western Mining Alliance (WMA) Newsletter and I've had it sitting on the back burner ever since. Now I think is a good time to publish it in "Bedrock Dreams."
A Grim Reality
As most of you already know, the mining community (small-scale, commercial, and major mining operations) is under direct attack by a host of enemies, including radical environmentalists, various special interest groups, and the bureaucrats and politicians who do their bidding. This is not just another crackpot conspiracy theory as many of our opponents like to claim, but an intensifying grim reality for those of us who seek color in gulches, dry washes, creeks, and rivers from Alabama to Alaska and everywhere in between.
However, I'm not here to speak to this issue despite its significance to each and every one of us. Instead I'd like to bring your attention to another ugly manifestation confronting the mining community these days...an internal "parasite" that feeds on its own and often leaves financial duress and shattered dreams in its wake.
Big Sharks and Little Fishes
As the spot price of gold has increased exponentially over the past five years or so there's been a corresponding growth in various types of gold mining claim and mining investment scams here in the United States, particularly in the West and Southwest. These scams run the gamut and the small fry are just as likely to get taken as the bigger fish when these greedy sharks do their thing. Small-scale miners I know personally have been taken for thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars, while a few individuals and commercial operations have lost hundreds of thousands or more, particularly in bogus mining investment schemes.
The most common hustle these days, however, remains the gold mining claim scam. It's this scam that most directly impacts the majority of the small-scale miners out there like you and I. Mining scams like this have been around for a long time and anyone who has studied California Gold Rush history knows exactly what I'm talking about here.
Claim Scamming Approaches
Tried and true claim scamming approaches include:
Claim "Salting:" This approach isn't used much these days, although once in a great while I hear of someone getting burned this way. Essentially claim "salting" (or salting the works) involves deliberately stashing good gold values in sterile spots at placer locations or "transforming" worthless rock into high-grade ore so that prospective buyers think they're getting a fantastic deal when, in fact, the claim they're about to buy is typically worthless. The tip off to this scam is that the seller always wants you to take your samples from locations he or she points out, takes material from, or directs you to.
(Just a little "salted" gold here and there and buyer beware.)
Counterfeit or Improper Documents: This is one of the biggest problems many claim scam victims face (and yes, you are a victim if you get scammed whether you want to admit it or not). In this approach necessary paperwork such as titles, deeds, location notices, boundary info, and quit claim deeds are either counterfeited, filled out improperly, or missing the necessary notarized signatures, etc. As soon as the scammer gets your hard-earned money you get your paperwork, only to find out after the fact that the validity of your ownership is questionable or that you can't record the claim because the bureaucrats require each and every "t" crossed and "i" dotted and the scammer has left you hanging in this regard.
There's more to come...
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "A Rant of Gold Claims"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
Questions? E-mail me at email@example.com