Friday, August 18, 2006

How to Spot a Counterfeit on eBay

Steve Swoda (founder of buySAFE) offers the following tips on how to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise (knockoffs) on eBay.

These tips were published in the Miami Herald a couple of weeks ago:

  • Don't buy based on price alone. We all know that if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Not all knockoffs are cheap, however. High prices can add a sense of legitimacy, and many knockoff sellers know this. Just because the price is high doesn't mean it's authentic.
  • Pictures aren't always worth a thousand words. If a seller has only a few pictures and won't share more, you know you're dealing with someone illegitimate. Anyone selling high-value goods -- used or new -- understands the importance of authenticity. If the merchant is selling something genuine, he'll have nothing to hide.
  • Read the fine print. Some ''e-tailers'' or auction sellers will lure you in with words that you're likely to use, such as ''Chanel'' or ''Gucci.'' Many sites also resort to overkill with words such as 'authentic,'' or 'genuine'' to describe items. It's only by reading carefully through the descriptions that you will see comments such as ''inspired by . . .'' to let you know that the merchandise isn't an exact copy. This sort of wording affords the seller immunity from trademark infringement.
  • Return or get burned. Make sure the seller offers a return policy, or ensure that he uses a buyer-protection program.
  • The extras. Designers love to provide value-added extras, such as boxes, identity cards and storage bags. The counterfeiters are always one step ahead, so don't let down your guard. Recent reports indicate that counterfeiters are even buying fake receipts to prove authenticity.
  • At the end of the day, it's caveat emptor. If you suspect that the merchandise isn't genuine, don't buy it.
Link, here.

Of course, fake receipts are nothing new - shoplifters have used them for years to refund stolen merchandise. A Google search will show you that this "activity" is alive and well on the Internet, here.

Someone should go after the companies selling the means to do this!

Steve also does a blog, "Steve Woda's Blog: buySAFE, eCommerce, Trust & Safety" and was recently appointed to the "Commonwealth of Virginia's Joint Commission on Technology & Science Cybercrimes Advisory Committee."

Here is a previous post, I did on how to safely navigate auction sites:

25 Ways to Avoid Auction Fraud From a Seller's Perspective

I did a post on counterfeit goods (knockoffs), it mentions a book by Tim Phillips on the subject (Knockoff), which is a great reference on this subject:

Counterfeit Goods, A Borderless Problem

1 comment:

Morra1 said...


Thanks for picking this article up. I thought this recent German study was interesting- found that 85% of perfumes sold on eBay DE were fakes. The upshot was that consumers actually expected fakes, so they would only pay low prices for such goods. No one wins in this situation.