LOS ANGELES – The treasure of Skid Row didn’t turn out much better than the 1948 classic movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” about star-crossed treasure hunters.
The scores of rare silver dollars found around downtown’s Skid Row over the last few months looked weathered and real to beat officers.
But one look by experts Friday found them to be fakes – and not even good ones.
“These are such bad counterfeits, it may not be correct to call them counterfeits,” said Fred Weinberg, a former president of the Professional Numismatists Guild, the coin industry’s professional association.
He said the coins appear to be made of pot metal as opposed to silver – a type of counterfeiting that he says is popular in China.
“No one would pay $20 for one of these,” he said. “These coins are a scam, like three-card monte.”
Though police officials originally speculated that someone had stolen a rare-coin collection to buy drugs on Skid Row, experts said Friday that these coins would never pass muster in the world of serious collecting.
LAPD officials said they were continuing to investigate.