Minelab upgrades labels to fight fake gold detectors

GPX detectorMetal detector specialist Minelab has turned to an SMS-based verification system in a bid to tackle a burgeoning problem with counterfeit versions of its products.

Just this month, Minelab uncovered an illicit factory churning out copies of its GPX series of gold detectors with a market value of around €1.2m in Dubai. Workers at the factory were assembling and packing the fake detectors using components that are thought to have originated from China.

The company's detectors are used by small-scale, artisanal gold prospectors and cost a few thousand dollars apiece. The fakes are said to be sold at or near full market price.

"This is a major update to our current anti-counterfeit measures and will enable you to independently verify your Minelab GPX Series detector by SMS wherever you are in the world," said the company in a statement.

Minelab already employs an online verification system that can be used by authorised dealers and distributors in its efforts to help customers buy genuine products, as well as security labels on its detectors and their packaging.

Counterfeiters are now copying the security labels - with varying degrees of success - according to the company.

The labels have multiple levels of protection, including a hidden full-colour image, text and a four-digit code that can only be seen with a special viewing strip attached to the products' manual. Counterfeit labels tend to lack clarity and have only a limited colour palette.

The latest level of security requires customers to text the serial number of their GPX detector plus the four-digit code from the label to a dedicated number. A message back will indicate whether the product is counterfeit or genuine.

An instruction video demonstrating the new verification process can be viewed here.

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