By Kathianne Boniello New York Post
They’ve made a mint off 9/11 memorabilia, but now the feds are slamming a Westchester-based outfit for duping consumers into buying collectible coins commemorating the World Trade Center attacks.
The National Collector’s Mint has raked in $22 million with coins memorializing the September 11 terror attacks, intentionally deceiving customers into believing the trinkets they peddle are “official,” the Federal Trade Commission alleged last week in a federal civil-fraud suit.
“Many consumers are misled or confused as to whether [National Collector’s Mint] are offering an official coin commemorating the September 11 attacks,” the FTC claims in its Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit.
Run by Avram Freedberg, the National Collector’s Mint began hawking a 10th anniversary 9/11 coin in 2011 for $29.95, but failed to mark it as a “copy” — a violation of the federal Hobby Protection Act, according to court papers.
Freedberg’s products “are not sanctioned or endorsed by the United States government,” court papers say.
The US Mint offered up its own 10th anniversary commemorative coin in 2011.
The Port Chester company routinely charged and delivered items customers didn’t order or want, and made it difficult to return them, the FTC charged.
“Justice is now served,” he said.The National Collector’s Mint has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle the FTC’s claims, which a lawyer for the company dismissed as anti-competition.“We think it’s a ridiculous position. There was no confusion of any kind whatsoever. We don’t think anybody was at all mislead [sic],” Lustigman said.
Bill Doyle, a 9/11 families spokesman who lost his son, Joseph, in the attacks on the Twin Towers, said he had to fight years ago to get the National Collector’s Mint to donate a portion of their proceeds to charities created after the attacks.
“I had to hold their feet to the fire,” Doyle recalled. “I think what you have to do is keep an eye on them, and I’m glad someone else is keeping an eye on them.”
U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler called the company “repugnant.”
“It’s the old story of the [US] Mint not liking competition – that’s what it really amount to,” lawyer Sheldon Lustigman told The Post.
Lustigman said the National Collector’s Mint put out its commemorative 10th anniversary 9/11 coin long before the US Mint issued its version, and the two coins look nothing alike.