Help Me Hank: Deceptive Dollars
September 11, 2001. Margie Gray was out jogging.
"I had a headset on and they interrupted the music."
It was a moment she'll always remember.
"Shocked, just like everyone."
Back then, Margie and her family didn't visit the World Trade Center site--so she was intrigued when she saw this commercial a few weeks ago.
It offered government-issued silver dollars commemorating 9/11.
The ad even said the silver in the dollar was taken from ground zero.
Margie thought she could have a piece of history.
"I thought it would be a nice keepsake. And so I placed an order. I just thought I would give it a shot, I've never done that before."
She paid $100.00.
But then a phone call from her daughter brought some baffling information she'd heard on the news.
"She said they're not real U.S. coins, not dollars. I said, 'What are you talking about? They say one dollar on the coin'. She said but they're not United States dollars."
In fact, the coins are from the Marianas Islands, a U.S. possession...but with no authority to coin U.S. money.
"I thought I'd been scammed."
Margie knew the "coins" came with a money-back guarantee, but when she tried to get it:
"It was always busy, always busy."
But Margie knew one place that would answer instantly.
"I emailed Hank and asked her if she was going to be doing a story on these."
We tried to contact customer service for Margie with zero success.
But here's the rest of the story: the real U.S. Mint is warning these are not genuine United States coins. And the New York Attorney General after 300 complaints got a court order to temporarily stop all sales. He says customers should be offered refunds.
"They were misled into thinking these were issued or authorized by the U.S. government, but they were not."
Eliot Spitzer, New York Attorney General
The National Collectors Mint issued a statement standing by the accuracy of their ads. But now, while a New York judge decides the future of the controversial coins, we'll go back to Margie. She paid with a credit card, so we suggested she dispute the charge then we'll all see what happens in court.
"If other people like me are buying this in good faith, I think this company needs to be stopped."
And in fact it now looks like unhappy customers may get refunds a judge just ruled the company's ads are misleading and now they're working out a pay-back policy.
For more information about the coins click here:
New York Attorney General's Office
United States Mint
National Collector's Mint