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Doubts Raised About Huge NorCal Gold Discovery

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The Washington Nugget. (CBS)

The Washington Nugget. (CBS)

NEVADA COUNTY (CBS 5) — A Northern California man said he recently found a piece of gold that weighs as much as a healthy newborn baby on his property. After being interviewed on CBS 5, he is now accused of lying.

The story of the 8 pound Washington Nugget nestled in the Mother Lode certainly painted a pretty picture. But it’s tale as the largest chunk of gold found in modern California history may be its undoing.

After it was sold for $460,000 in March, the nugget gained international news coverage. But after seeing the nugget, some have come forward to say it’s all a scam.

“Claiming it was the last surviving nugget from California, he’s just totally wrong,” Murray Cox told CBS 5. The Australian gold prospector said the nugget is not even from California and that he and his partner found it in 1987.

“And you could see about 20 ounces of it sticking out of the gravel,” Cox recalled.

They called it the “Orange Roughy” because of its fish-like shape and sold it for $50,000.

The Orange Roughy and the Washington Nugget look similar and both weigh exactly the same at 98 troy ounces.

“With all the little characteristic markings on it, it’s just impossible that it could be anything but the same nugget,” Cox said.

Fred Holabird, who helped auction off the Washington Nugget said he now believes he was duped.

Holabird blames James Grill, the man who claimed he found the gold on his property. Grill told CBS 5 in May that he found the 8 pound nugget 10 feet down with a metal detector.

CBS 5’s Grace Lee contacted Grill at his home number and spoke with a man who answered to the name of Jim. But when she identified herself and began answering questions, the man said she had the wrong number and hung up.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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