TRAVERSE CITY — No one tried to sell Peter Dalley fake silver in the 18 years he has owned Bay West Antiques. Not until last week.
Dalley's business is one of at least three local shops that someone duped April 27 into buying fake 1-ounce silver bars. The suspect is a 40-year-old woman suspected in similar crimes across Michigan.
Traverse City Police Department Capt. Mike Ayling said the suspect received about $2,500 at each local shop.
"She cashed in 100 silver bars at each business," he said. "After they tested it they found it was all fake."
Ayling said police believe the suspect is from Lapeer in the Flint area. He said Lapeer authorities turned over a case involving fake silver to the United States Secret Service.
Dalley said the suspect initially showed him a 1-ounce silver bar with markings from a "legitimate company selling silver bars encapsulated in plastic containers." He said a test showed the bar was genuine.
"She then produced 99 more of them," he said.
Dalley had no doubt the silver he purchased was genuine until he received a call Monday from downstate silver buyers who warned of a potential scam. He then tested the rest of the silver and found it was fake.
"They're perfect counterfeits," he said. "Thank god I was warned in time. I still have all 100 bars. If there's anything I'm glad about, it's none made it to the public."
At least one local shop was not so fortunate. Ayling said the shop unknowingly sold fake silver to a customer. He said the suspect may have sold silver to other precious metal buyers in the Traverse area beyond the three of which police are aware.
"It's very likely they haven't discovered it yet," he said.
Police ask anyone who may have purchased fake silver or with information on the suspect to call 947-TIPS (947-8477).