When do you know you are about to be burnt?
Not surprisingly often it will be never.
It can be as simple as the five photos fail to show the price depreciating damage to the sixth side, or the quality of the finish is so much like the original you don't know until it is in your hands and on inspection the inside you find it to be brand spanking new and not made in the 18th or whatever century.
Fakes are now a multi-billion dollar industry that affects all economies and is present in all countries where items of worth have come into existence. Or have been made increasingly valuable through scarcity - deliberate or otherwise.
A fake is a deliberate manufacture designed to mislead, a deception usually for the purpose of financial gain. Sometimes a fake has a legitimate use, such as paste or costume jewelery where the owner is not confident of their personal security or that of the possession when out in public spaces.
Same with reproduction militaria that is perfectly ok to buy - if the seller informs you as such that it is a reproduction and you are aware that it is not a ridgy didge original at the time of purchase. This has seen an increase in what was once just an outlet for movie props, it is now the world of the re-enactor, their clubs, associations and societies who support what was a cottage industry.
Many items of military significance and value today have attracted the faker. A character of dubious character who has the four essentials to complete the chain of deception - with a fifth, the dupe, or buyer.
Duplicitous dealings can occur some times due to innocent ignorance, yet in most instances it is deliberate.
Recently (2010 - 2011) a wave of war relics have appeared, some so new and brand spanking it is incredible how they have suddenly appeared. If you are not familiar with the item, its factual history and providence, then unfortunately you are just the kind of buyer the faker will encourage and seek out usually via private or secret bidding where no one knows anything about each other bidder.
The internet has provided for rich pickings, the victims of which auction site promoters and police have increasingly abandoned. This is mainly due to the increase in these events and the marginal value as perceived by those whom have the moral (and often legal) responsibility to act.
Big ticket items will attract the police fraud investigator if they are not already swamped under with more pressing high street or white collar crime and in reality how much damage can an internet auction house suffer from the individual being done over? The police rely on the impact to society the fraud has had or will have, which with online purchasing is perceived as infinitely small and the online auction house is of such a massive size that the brand is self-healing amongst the noise of the incredibly happy vast majority of sellers and buyers.
It has become a game of scale verses damage, with the little guys (you and me) left to defend for themselves.
If you do have or are a subject matter expert, have no hesitation in reporting a listing if there is any doubt, especially after communicating with the seller posing a few hard and pointy questions - they will invariably give the game away in their response. This is the only hope the honest seller AND buyer has in combating what is becoming a festering sore on the underbelly of internet auctions.
Also, make use of the search engine web sites to see what others have experienced or have to say. There are millions of subject matter experts out there on the internet and yes a lot do talk rubbish. Just learn to sift the good from the dross - it is well worth the effort.
The upshot is that if you have the raw materials, the means of manufacture, distribution and a retail outlet then it is only the fifth element - the dupe that you need to become a success in the world of fakery and eBay provides them in droves.
Why, because the means of addressing a vast audience of potential buyers has never before as easy as it is today thanks to eBay.
Don't get me wrong, I like what the company has created, its just in need of better filters as door keepers. And until that day always remember - you are buying the product not the story.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope it helps at least one person, because that's all it take to effect change.
Fakes, Fakers and Fakery - Militaria
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31 August 2011
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