For many years the United States Mint has administered a program by which people and businesses could exchange bent and partial coins (commonly referred to as "mutilated coins") for reimbursement. On November 2, 2015, the Mint suspended the exchange program to assess the security of the program and develop additional safeguards to enhance the integrity of the acceptance and processing of mutilated coinage. Since that time, the Mint has made significant progress in evaluating risks and identifying potential remedial measures. The Mint resumed the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program through a final rule on December 20, 2017 and released their certification guidelines on February 28, 2018.
Suspicions of counterfeit coins were first raised in 2009 by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, with a subsequent investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury Department in 2010. Following the seizure of a shipment of coins in 2014 and the Justice Department's filing of litigation regarding the seized coins, the Mint suspended its buyback program.
The investigation focused upon counterfeited coins being redeemed. It is alleged that at least two scrap brokers have regularly sold mutilated U.S. coins originating in China to the U. S. Mint. There have also been allegations by the US Department of Justice of fraud, as some shipments contained counterfeit coins. Nonetheless, the suspension of the mutilated coin buyback program was applied to all sellers, domestic or foreign, and to coins originating from U.S. recyclers as well as foreign recyclers. While the program was suspended ISRI repeatedly reached out to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Congress to express concerns about the broad reach of the program and the uncertainty from the extended suspension.