Geopic of the week: Arkansas gold scam

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Pictured above is one of the “gold” mines of Arkansas.  This is one of many prospect holes dug in the Ouachita Mountains around 1886 when investors fell victim to the first documented Arkansas gold scam.  It’s located in the Charlton Campground just west of Mt. Ida in the Ouachita Mountains.  The reality is no gold in commercially minable quantities has ever been found in Arkansas. 

Scams involving gold and other precious metals are not unique to the state, but they have been a recurring problem, as recently as the mid 1980s.  The scams, in a nutshell, consist of staking out a claim on a piece of land, obtaining falsified assay reports that show inflated values of precious metals, and then duping investors into buying parts of the claim.

Though it’s hard to imagine falling victim to such a scheme, the con-men have historically been quite successful.  As rumors spread, more and more people rush to get in on the bonanza.  By the time the dust starts to settle, the original instigators are gone and so is everyone’s money.

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