The Mining Claim and Gold Scam Hits Just Keep Coming (Part 1)
Back in the days when I was still a young buck there weren't any smart phones, computers, MP3 players or anything else that the current generation accepts as a matter of course when it comes to downloading or playing music. As archaic as it may sound, we played vinyl records on the stereo or listened to AM or FM radio disc jockeys who often proclaimed "The hits just keep coming!" So it is currently with mining claim and gold scams. The scams just keep coming.
As True as the Day is Long
Some of you may be wondering why I'm hitting this topic hard yet again. Well pards, I'm doing my best to protect you from being taken, especially those of you who are new to the small-scale gold mining game. Sure, mining claim and gold scams have been around for as long as men and women have mined or accumulated gold. That much is certain. But here's the flip side of that coin. Despite the long history of gold and claim scams, people still get taken in by them and still get burned by scammers. This is as true as the day is long and it's happening every day on all sorts of levels and in all types of venues, including online sites like eBay and God only knows how many others. In the past I've urged you NOT to buy placer gold, gold ore, silver or gold bullion, numismatic coins, or mining claims via these sorts of online "sellers" for any number of reasons. This advice remains "golden," whether you choose to accept it or not. This might sound unfair to those online sellers who are truly on the "up and up," but what you (and they) must understand is that the wolves who prowl those digital corridors are on the increase and like all things in this life, the bad often outshines the good because it only takes one or two bad apples to ruin the barrel of good fruit. Sad but true. In the past I've suggested that you only deal with reputable, "brick-and-mortar" shops when it comes to anything related to gold mining or gold in general. That bit of cheap advice also remains solid from my point of view. So does the rest of what I have to say in this post.
eBay Gets a Bad Rap
I've never spent much time on eBay or any other online buying or selling sites (other than Amazon) because I believe the risks outweigh the rewards, especially when it comes to mining claims, coins, gold bullion, etc. That's just an opinion, but it's based on hard fact and real data. This may seem an affront to those of you who frequently use eBay or buy or sell on it yourselves, but no slight is intended on my part. If you're one of the solid and honest types on eBay (which you undoubtedly are) you should take pride in that fact and should also keep on doing your thing there as a counterpoint to the thieves and scammers who operate there. In other words, more power to you. Above all, I think eBay gets a bad rap in the context we're speaking about. eBay certainly doesn't encourage scamming or thievery in any area, but even eBay itself admits that it has a very hard time "policing" itself when it comes to scams and scammers. And I have to say that there are quite a few of these lowlifes operating on and within eBay in the gold and claim realms. So here's the deal when it comes to online buying and selling sites like eBay:
1) DO NOT buy gold mining claims via online venues. I will put my neck in the noose here and unequivocally state that the great majority of individuals or self-proclaimed mining "companies" who sell placer or lode gold claims on eBay or other online venues are NOT on the up and up in the broadest sense. Some are folks who dance on the razor's edge of fairness and equality while others are downright scammers and thieves. There may be a few honest folks sprinkled in that mix, but I doubt there are many. So those of you who are newbies or greenhorns to small-scale mining might be full of unrestrained enthusiasm about getting the gold and think that owning your own gold claim is the cat's meow. But I'm telling you here and now that if you truly want an unpatented mining claim buying it from some "shadow" seller online is NOT the way to go. For one thing, let me ask you this question (yet again). Would you buy a new or used car or truck sight unseen? No, you wouldn't. So why would you buy a 20-acre or multiple-parcel mining claim online without checking it out first? Again, all the pretty pictures and glowing write-ups the claim hustlers (notice how that rhymes with "rustlers?") post online are simply come-on's...nothing more and nothing less. They are the bait, as are the typically low prices you'll pay for claims in highly desirable gold areas. And if you get sucked into this sort of web you're not going to get what you thought you were getting.
(Would you buy this truck sight unseen and without test driving it?)
You'll Get Something All Right
But you WILL get something in a certain lower body orifice unless I'm mistaken. You'll find the claim's paperwork is invalid, the claim has not be recorded or posted properly, has been filed over someone else's claim, or any number of other documentation or paperwork issues have been left hanging in thin air. Any one of those loose ends means your "claim" is invalid or you won't be able to file it with the county assessor. Or, even if the claim is valid, you'll find that nice placer claim with all those neat pics and descriptions you drooled over online and laid out good money for is way up high on a hillside with no water, no bedrock, and no gold...just chunks of bull quartz scattered around to decorate your garden perimeter with. There used to be a claim hustler on eBay who specialized in this sort of thing, by the way. So be wary...he may still be conning folks. This bait-and-switch routine goes on and on, and if you doubt me give things a whirl pard. Chances are you won't come out the other end unscathed. I'll close this part out by saying that even if you do get your boots on the ground on an online claim (which you should always do before "buying" ANY claim or any thing, for that matter), chances are you will be pointed to spots to sample that have been "salted" prior to your arrival. If you're so green at the gills to gold mining and don't know what "salting" is, it would behoove you to look that term up. Anyway, this questionable strategy is as old as the hills and twice as dusty. And it still happens, believe me. My suggestion if you're interested in getting an unpatented mining claim? Find one yourself, do the research on its validity yourself, walk and sample it yourself, and record it yourself. DO NOT buy a claim offered online no matter how great the seller hypes it or what a great "deal" it appears to be. Alternately, if you're still too lazy to do the legwork yourself, check in with organizations like the Mining Alliance or certain prospecting or mining clubs. They often have claims for sale or can put you onto something that will be valid and as clean as clean can be. Lastly, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Keep that idiom in your mind at all costs and at all times because this principle applies to everything I am saying in this series of posts (and to the world at large).
As a supplement to what I'm saying here, some years ago I began receiving complaint after complaint from well-intentioned folks in the Sacramento, California and Northern Motherlode Region who had purchased unpatented placer claims on eBay from a mining "company" that burned them badly. One poor soul lost over $20,000 (USD...or was it $30,000?) to this scammer (that was the biggest "burn") while others lost $1,000, $3,000, or even $5,000 or $10,000 on claim scams perpetrated by this lowlife and his minions. I even had an attorney (supposedly savvy men and women, right?) contact me who had been burned badly by the individual who was the head of this fake mining company. To take this a step further, the scammer's own sister contacted me and said she hoped the law would finally catch up with her brother because he had also scammed family members! I shit you not. So I began exposing this scumbag on Bedrock Dreams and naming names. Eventually the scammer contacted me protesting his innocence and asked me to ease up on him and his fake mining company. I refused and kept gnawing away at him and his phony mining concern. Eventually I was contacted by an attorney who represented this scammer and was threatened with a libel lawsuit that would drag me into a California court battle. Once I received those legal papers I had no choice but to cease and desist. I didn't want to but I had to because I didn't have the time or money on my own to prove this dude was a liar and a thief. As far as I know, this scammer may have finally gotten his just desserts or, on the other hand, he may still be selling on eBay and stealing from folks under an alias or a new fake mining company name. So this was my run in with a claim scammer. It's a tale of warning to those of you still being drawn toward buying a mining claim, especially online. Please heed that warning. And here's another. There has been a lot of furor in online comment threads on certain treasure hunting and mining sites in the recent past about another mining "company" that sells mining claims on eBay and has a slick website to boot. In all honesty, I know nothing about this mining "company" or its practices but it sounds awfully familiar to the company and individual I helped expose. You see, there's more than one around at any given time. Just saying, ya know?
There's more to come, so stay tuned.
(c) Jim Rocha 2019
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org