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eBay Fakes Devalue the Craft of Tomb Robbing

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the disintermediation-of-the-illicit dept.

The Internet 153

James McP writes "According to an article on Archaeology, fake artifacts being sold on eBay have caused the bottom to drop out of the low-end artifact market. This outcome is exactly opposite to what archeologists feared would happen when eBay came on the scene. A side effect of more and more forgers getting in on the act has been a dramatic increase in high-quality fakes that can fool experts and illicit collectors alike, lowering the price for high-end artifacts as well. It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes, especially since selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal."

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fake or not? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834929)

So wait. Are you telling me that Lara Croft's are fake?

Re:fake or not? (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835053)

she's real alright. just not her tits

Re:fake or not? (5, Funny)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835173)

Well her guns are USP 9mm, and the variants of the USP are used by the German military. However, the extended barrels and weighted match are only used in competition shooting and never . . . oh you mean her other guns. Definitely fake.

Re:fake or not? (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835591)

oh you mean her other guns. Definitely fake.

No, we're actually referring to her torpedoes.

Re:fake or not? (1)

default luser (529332) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837485)

Absolutely. Anyone who's seen Hackers [threemoviebuffs.com] knows that Angelina's current rack is high-impact plastic (see bottom picture).

Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834935)

It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes, especially since selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal.

May not be illegal but certainly misrepresentation is a thorn in eBay's side.

The auction depicted [ebay.com] in the article reads "100% Guaranteed Authentic" and:

Origin: North Coast Peru
Culture: Moche
Culture Date: 50 A.D. to 750 A.D. Approx.

Notice how they said "culture date" and not actual date of the mask. The phrase "Pre-Columbian" is as misleading as "100% Guaranteed Authentic" and I think I would have a problem if I purchased this as it is a pretty misleading posting.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835197)

"100% Authentic" is a classic example of a common advertising dodge. It's not a sentence, it's a meaningless fragment without an object, subject, or a verb. The implication is that you're saying that the object right there on the same page is 100% authentic, but they're not responsible for your misunderstanding.

This is a particularly good example, because the sentence not only lacks an object, it also lacks the object that is supposed to be related to the object by the descriptor "authentic". Not only do we not know what is supposed to be authentic, but we don't what class of thing it's supposed supposed to be an authentic member of!

So (unknown object) (is a) 100% Authentic (unknown thing). A perfectly meaningless sentence fragment. Caveat Emptor.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (4, Insightful)

fataugie (89032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835229)

it's a 100% Authentic......reproduction

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1, Funny)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835319)

Heh. It's like Ms. California's boobs(psfw) [krmg.com] ...Real, but not natural.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835699)

mmmmm ... chicken cutlets [thebeautypalette.com] ...

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836867)

Raises an interesting question...

If I sell something on EBay and advertise it as "100% fake", while it is in fact real, does that constitute fraud?

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837821)

A 100% genuine fake is still 100% genuine.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27835369)

Genuine Faux Pearls

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Funny)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836361)

Windows Genuine Advantage?

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836325)

Exactly -- forget ebay hawkers, allegedly legitimate big corporations use nonsense statements like "100% Natural" all the time.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837041)

Exactly -- forget ebay hawkers, allegedly legitimate big corporations use nonsense statements like "100% Natural" all the time.

Except that statement is subject to truth in advertising laws and regulation by various government agencies.

In 2007 Cadbury Schweppes was threatened with a lawsuit because they thought high fructose corn syrup was "all natural" and went about advertising 7UP as such. Needless to say, they ended up dropping "all natural" from the ad campaign.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836431)

eBay policy forbids counterfeit trademark bearing merchandise. But counterfeit stuff that is older than 200 years is not only fair game, there is nobody alive to discredit the authenticity.

Common practice among fraudsters on eBay and all auction sites is to never outright say it's a reproduction, since that flags the item as a counterfeit and is almost certainly to be removed for that word alone.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (3, Insightful)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837133)

"100% Authentic" is a classic example of a common advertising dodge. It's not a sentence, it's a meaningless fragment without an object, subject, or a verb. The implication is that you're saying that the object right there on the same page is 100% authentic, but they're not responsible for your misunderstanding.

"Fraud - (Law) An intentional perversion of truth for the purpose of obtaining some valuable thing or promise from another"

To argue that it's a meaningless fragment somehow abdicates the seller from responsibility is absurd. English is a context-sensitive language. Read the description again:

PRE-COLUMBIAN MOCHE GOLD WARRIOR DOUBLE STIRRUP VESSEL

BIG MOCHE GOLD MASK WITH PECTORAL COPPER & GOLD 24K!!!!

(15 % OF PURE GOLD)

100% Guaranteed Authentic

Pre-columbian is a time period. Authentic, in this context, means minimally that the object was constructed as described at or before that time period. If the seller had said, "0% Guaranteed", then perhaps there'd be some leeway to the point that the seller is unsure of what he's selling. So, it if turns out that said mask isn't really pre-columbian, it's very clear that a perversion of the truth is occured, that the seller was entirely irresponsible to call it 100% guaranteed authentic, that such actions indicate an intention to defraud, and they should prosecuted for fraud*. And if it is pre-columbina, nothing should happen.

Your argument seems about as aburd as the idea that adding random periods in your sentences in contracts would magically abdicate both parties from responsibility within that contract. It is the "meeting of the minds" in contract and in contract-like situation (ie, interactions where there are socially-constructed and lawfully enforced transactions) that determines what, if any, remedy is available to parties for any failures to comply with the intention of the "contract". The only thing sellers of fake artifacts have going for them is, because their "meeting of the minds" is partially implicit, they have more leeway to argue that their intentions were honest.

Language like "100% guaranteed" is clearly to designed as a means of conveying that a seller is forgoing various defenses should a complaint arise as they themselves have taken on the responsibility of claiming to actually know the truth and to be held accountable for that truth. If such language is infact meaningless, then the use of such language is clearly designed to try to fool people to trust and buy products they wouldn't otherwise by envoking the previous sentence's implications. It is little different than using a trademark one does not have a right/privilege to. All are attempts to manipulate money out of people without exchanging with them something of value.

*Just because a person should be prosecuted for fraud doesn't mean they likely will. This would appear to be especially true over the internet, but I believe the truth is more that people in general have such low standards of expectations regardless of what is clearly promised that they don't pursue legal action against those that defraud them. Not wanting to be "overly litigious", a desire to not appear foolish for having believed another person's promises, courts generally already being rather busy, "Caveat Emptor", and the possibility of not being able to recoup one's losses anyways for "failing to follow common sense" all are barriers to remeding fraud.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835233)

Anyone stupid enough to think things like that on eBay lacking a complete pedigree are real deserve to get burned.

There's a reason in the art world if a painting cannot be tracked through it's whole life it's first considered a fake.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835909)

There's a reason in the art world if a painting cannot be tracked through it's whole life it's first considered a fake.

Except of course for all the paintings not discovered to be by someone considered important until years, decades, or centuries after the work was created. Something that's actually done fairly routinely.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836495)

There's a reason in the art world if a painting cannot be tracked through it's whole life it's first considered a fake.

Except of course for all the paintings not discovered to be by someone considered important until years, decades, or centuries after the work was created. Something that's actually done fairly routinely.

In which case the burden of proof lies on the discoverer, unless I'm greatly mistaken. If you discover that a piece is by a famous artist and attempt to sell it as such, I imagine the first question anyone asks will be "How do you know?" I think this was the point the parent post was trying to make -- such things are considered fakes until proven otherwise.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Informative)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837249)

You missed the point. You have a painting that has been passed down countless times, painted by some nobody from Milan. No one has been tracking his paintings, because he is a nobody. Suddenly he becomes famous for some reason, and his paintings are valuable. Pretty much no one can prove the history of their painting, because no one keeps track of things with little value (like velvet Elvis portraits).

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836569)

First it is considered a fake.

Then all the experts argue about why it isn't.

Then some people may believe it is real.

Won't someone please think of the tomb raiders (2, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836649)

Think of all the hard working honest tomb raiders hacking their way through a jungle somewhere so that you can have your trinket from some dead culture collecting dust on your mantle.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837985)

Depends on the artifact. I wouldn't trust unknown sellers of artifacts on eBay, especially if the object is too worn or too lacking in detail to verify if it's genuine.

On the other hand, there are fairly large-scale coin dealers on eBay who have a lot to lose if they're accused of fakery. Again, though, that doesn't make them honest. You should still do whatever checks you can, though that's often going to be hard, particularly for coins. Often they are not going to have good documentation (most hoards are found by farmers and metal detectorists, not archaeologists) and unless you've a source of high-energy neutrons handy, you can't use isotope ratios to date the metal.

In a few cases, say silver coins from Iron Age Norfolk, the sheer number of genuine articles is so overwhelming that those specific finds are even exempted from Britain's Treasure Trove laws. The market for those can be considered as glutted as any archaeological market ever is. I'd probably trust those, within reason. "Ring coins" from Europe, which are just, well, iron rings with no details, could be mass-produced on any wire-making machine. They quite likely are.

Rarer stuff or anonymous sellers for ancient material? Nah. I wouldn't trust them at all. I didn't mind buying an R1155 radio off an anonymous seller because there's no demand for fake R1155s and the cost of the forgery would exceed the money you could sell one for. But valuables? Never go near eBay for anything worth something.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835275)

and I think I would have a problem if I purchased this as it is a pretty misleading posting.

I think you'd have a bigger problem if you purchased that item, namely that you'd be a sucker.

Ad states it's 15% 24k gold (in so many words), with a weight of 455 g. That works out to 68.25 g of pure gold, or a little over two ounces... since gold is currently selling at around $900, a buy-it-now cost of $1495 (plus 49.99 shipping) is far less than the value of the gold in the piece.

Right away it's clear that there is something fishy, which should be enough to scare away anyone who isn't a sucker.

IOW, too good to be true.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1)

againjj (1132651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835789)

It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes, especially since selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal.

May not be illegal but certainly misrepresentation is a thorn in eBay's side.

It's illegal if you say it is a real artifact when it isn't. The given auction borders on fraud, and which side of the fraud line it falls determines its legality. Generally, people who make livings at this are good at keeping things on the non-fraud side, and if someone actually threatens a suit, they can buy it back, "with a little extra for you time and trouble", which is simply a cost of doing business.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835991)

Sure it's misrepresentation. But who really cares? Anybody who's fooled by this has an expressed willingness to break the law and to help destroy humanity's cultural heritage. Ripping of these narcissists is not morally defensible, but it is hard to get worked up about.

Donald Westlake wrote an amusing novel ("High Adventure", and yes it's pun) about a marijuana smuggler who's conned into buying land that supposedly has Mayan ruins on it. Although there are no ancient artifacts to exploit, he discovers that the locals still know how to carve them. Of course, to make a profit, he has to pretend that he's a tomb robber. So you end up with perfectly legal trinkets being smuggled into the U.S., carefully concealed in bales of illegal weed! One of my favorites.

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836457)

Fake artifacts?!?!? Back in *my* day, grave robbers had ethics!

Re:Not Illegal But Definitely Misleading (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837017)

It's illegal in the sense that "Hey, Officer, I want to report a robbery. That guy over there selling Crack stole it from my car; look, there's only ten bags left and I had twenty a minute ago."

Nobody who actually has any idea what the artifact might be worth would turn the seller in, since that would be incriminating themselves most of the time because exporting and importing artifacts is very illegal in most countries that actually have either artifacts or museums, let alone both.

There are other roadblocks to actual persecution; he may have bought it in good faith domestically, which lets him off the hook. He may rely on an expert opinion, which in my case would be the opinion of anyone who took an introductory Art History class, because I didn't.

The cops are not going to spend a few thou to check the authenticity, especially when you can trot out contradictory expert opinion, creating the necessary legal doubt. You might get sued, but any one of the other caveats applies; if it's proven to be authentic, the person who wins the lawsuit might have just proven themselves a criminal for buying a known genuine artifact.

And so on.

There are lots of things that are illegal, immoral, or just plain wrong, but nothing happens, and nothing is ever going to happen, to people who do them. This is one of those things.

Disagree in part! (1)

DadLeopard (1290796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834959)

I believe that selling a Fake as a Real Item would constitute fraud!! So still illegal!!

Re:Disagree in part! (5, Funny)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835241)

But it is not "really" illegal.

Just as stealing $5.00 out of your girlfriends wallet may be illegal, but selling drugs to schoolchildren is "really illegal".

Re:Disagree in part! (3, Funny)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836203)

What if you steal the drugs from your girlfriend's wallet and sell THAT to schoolchildren?

How about selling your GF to schoolkids for drugs? (3, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836301)

Why think so small?

Re:Disagree in part! (3, Interesting)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835263)

I think what the summary was aiming for was that the sell of fake items in and of itself is not illegal. If they are honest about the origins (or write their summaries cleverly enough) then it's not illegal. Kind of like the market for forged coins; not illegal as long as your not selling them as the real thing.

Re:Disagree in part! (1)

James McP (3700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27838095)

Yeah, this is where I was going. I thought about saying "except for the whole fraud thing" but thought it was overly glib.

Mea culpa. Next time I shall be glib.

Re:Disagree in part! (3, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835435)

What about authentic fakes?

Re:Disagree in part! (2, Interesting)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836023)

I think it's far preferable that a bunch of idiots on eBay buy fake "artifacts" than for real artifacts to be looted.

What's more is that I highly doubt that any court in the WORLD would think that these fools could have any reasonable expectation that these were in fact the genuine article. No reasonable expectation, no case.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who saw (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834967)

"eBay Fakes Devalue Lara Croft of Tomb Raiding"

Failed oportunity (4, Funny)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835673)

This headline totally should have been:
eBay Fakes Lower Craft of Tomb Raiding.

Good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27835001)

Tomb Raiding is so 1996

Now its all about simple JavaScript-based Web 2.0 games that even the people buried in the tombs can enjoy

Laura Croft: Ebay Raider (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835007)

Wow, who could have ever thought new technology could have beneficial side effects? That's just crazy.

I'm glad to see this get press. Maybe some people will think twice about jumping on the alarmist "Must Fear Everything New" bandwagon.

Then again, it double's their potential for attention-whoredom: make news talking up your baseless dire predictions, then make news with the shocking revelation that, not only did your predicts not come true, the opposite happened! Who could have seen this amazing twist ending!

Re:Laura Croft: Ebay Raider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27835419)

From the article: "As a former curator myself, I know that an embarrassingly high percentage of objects in our museums are forgeries. What fools the curator also fools the collector."

What was the benefit again?

Re:Laura Croft: Ebay Raider (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836127)

It reduces the profitablility of ransacking historic sites and graves that might otherwise be studied scientifically.

Fuck collectors, they're 99% of the problem. And if it's good enough to fool a curator, then it's good enough to display in a museum. Not like the average schmuck walking through the museum is going to know the difference.

Re:Laura Croft: Ebay Raider (1)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837831)

It might not be entirely good, the market crash might trickle down to legitimate archeology in an era where technology is making the possibility of historical preservation and investigation better than ever. In this era of a transition to a global culture, its important to try to preserve as much as possible while we still can.

Re:Laura Croft: Ebay Raider (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835679)

It's also related to the fact that the high-end market is full of fraud as well. For instance, high end auctioneers will often bid secretly on behalf of sellers to encourage bidding wars. With eBay at least, you don't have that type of collusion, it's a lot more transparent, although there still exists the very real problem of verifying the authenticity of those objects of course.

Re:Laura Croft: Ebay Raider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836797)

Wow, who could have ever thought new technology could have beneficial side effects? That's just crazy.

It does seem obvious, but strangely, politicians talk about falling house prices as though it's something undesirable instead of desirable.

branding in Bolivia (1)

rachellena (1546735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835091)

Yes! now everyone can own the "original" andean artifact handcrafted in the time of Cortez, but please only limited qualities available. Until we "uncover" more with our skillful team of archaeologists.

Weird anyway. (2, Insightful)

imboboage0 (876812) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835147)

Am I the only one that finds it a little odd that people are interested in purchasing items raided from tombs in the first place? O.o

Re:Weird anyway. (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835311)

Am I the only one that finds it a little odd that people are interested in purchasing items raided from tombs in the first place? O.o

It's how most of the artifacts in museums around the world left their home countries. Also, go to the houses of some old money types in New York and you'll find a shocking amount of looted art. Some of the looted art eventually ends up going back to museums (like the Levy-White collection now trickling toward the Met, though Shelby White still has quite a collection that might astonish you at home).

Laura Croft (1)

BGrif (1190941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835153)

"It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes"

So Laura Croft has moved from Mass Murderer to Forgery?

Re:Laura Croft (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835327)

Seeing as how he only thing she got when searching for ancient artifacts was Billy Bob, I'd say it doesn't pay.

Not another Lara Croft comment, I promise (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835177)

Harumph! Ebay? They belong in a museum!

Re:Not another Lara Croft comment, I promise (2, Funny)

Sinter (650182) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836557)

Where's +1 "Indiana Jones" when you need it?

Re:Not another Lara Croft comment, I promise (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836849)

Harumph! Ebay? They belong in a museum!

And where do museums get their artefacts? ... A few years ago a friend told me of how his museum -- basically a small room in a university, where the friend was the part-time curator -- bought some Egyptian papyri via eBay. Sure eBay has its problems, but other auctions aren't necessarily more trustworthy when it comes to potentially forged antiquities.

The ideal, I suppose, is to go for a private deal with a source you trust, e.g. another museum. But with high-volume stuff -- like Egyptian papyri, of which there are hundreds of thousands of items in existence -- that's not always efficient. EBay is very efficient.

Recession proof... (1)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835189)

It's a lot less cost-effective to go tomb raiding than to make your own fakes

Wonderful! It is exactly this kind of advice that will get us through the credit crunch.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when we will explain to you how to save on bullets but just pretending not to hear or see your enemies and/or cheating spouses!

My fake auctions suffer (4, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835247)

I sell fake artifacts for the fake ebay artifact auctions, and have noticed this. I used to get three times as much for my fake artifacts (with aged certificate of authenticy). Because of this, I now write "This Artifact is Fake, Hoser" in the appropriate runes on each one I produce. They still sell well, and noone has caught on yet.

Shrubberies (2, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835257)

I wondered that original Holy Grail I bought of eBay was so gosh-darned cheap.

Re:Shrubberies (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835459)

I'm also wondering about that gross of Jesus pinkey finger bones I bought, and the seven true crosses I have in my front yard. Any way to test them?

Re:Shrubberies (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835627)

cover your self with a wet bed sheet (for safety) then light the crosses on fire.

Re:Shrubberies (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835677)

I'm sure that among my ten skulls of Leonardo da Vinci, there is at least one fake. If only I knew which one.

Re:Shrubberies (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836425)

It might be the wooden one. The one stamped "Made in China" is also suspicious, since he was from Italy.

Re:Shrubberies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27837269)

Leonaldo da Vinci vely good chinese cook mind you babalian devil.

Re:Shrubberies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836745)

The fake one will weigh less. Time to get out your balance scales.

Re:Shrubberies (1)

zigmeister (1281432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835709)

I dunno, but I just purchased the "greatest airspeed-velocity swallows on the market." Anybody have an idea how I can verify this?

Re:Shrubberies (1)

kaizenfury7 (322351) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835663)

You got in on that deal? When I saw that were only 300 left in stock, I thought to myself...wait a moment...something doesn't seem right, and decided to take the safe route and go through a Russian escrow company. Can't wait for my grails any day now!

Re:Shrubberies (1)

93,000 (150453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835671)

Of course yours was a cheap fake, you moron.

I already bought the real Holy Grail off ebay like, almost six months ago. It even came with a certificate of authenticity -- and it's not like you can just fake that shit.

Sucker.

Re:Shrubberies (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835793)

No two originals are teh same! Collect the entire set!!!

Well, my Egyptian Mummy is authentic . . . (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835399)

I know, because he often rises from the dead in the middle of the night while I'm sleeping. He then proceeds to drink my beer, eat my chips and generally make a mess of the apartment.

He seems to have a penchant for microwave burritos as well. I can't remember any references to burritos in the Bible's chapter of "Exodus."

And he has been downloading porn on my computer, as well. Mummies seem to be into some weird kink. I'm kind of glad that I can't read Hieroglyphics . . . that's probably some nasty stuff that scholars have mistranslated.

If he was not such a valuable archeological artifact, I probably would have tossed the bastard.

Re:Well, my Egyptian Mummy is authentic . . . (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27837385)

I can't remember any references to burritos in the Bible's chapter of "Exodus."

Exodus 16:14-16:21 [biblegateway.com]

Ok (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835649)

So, the way to wipe out the illegal stealing and smuggling of ancient relics is to flood the market with cheap fakes. What other areas of unlawful exploitation can this principle be applied to? Drugs? Child porn? Bootleg music and movies? I believe flooding the prostitution market with fake girls has already been tried, but it hasn't been too successful at curbing demand.

Re:Ok (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835965)

I believe flooding the prostitution market with fake girls has already been tried, but it hasn't been too successful at curbing demand.

Not all fakes are simple forgery. And some fakes are easier to spot than others. Silicone breasts require some examination to detect and are accepted as still authentic enough by some. However, testicles are a dead giveaway of you don't have a genuine woman.

Re:Ok (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836355)

My sister has lots of testicles. She's a veterinarian. Isn't it funny how most female veterinarians don't see any connection between their fascination with castration and their inability to keep a boyfriend for very long?

Same with fossils (5, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835697)

My coworker is an amateur paleontologist. He has a reasonably serious collection that takes up most of his house, and does a lot of trading as well as collecting. He has a lot of stories about fakes.
"Dominican Amber" is this beautiful, amazingly clear, amazingly inexpensive amber from the Dominican Republic. Except that when you do some research, it all comes through one company, who has filed patents on taking ground-up amber fragments and re-melting them under pressure into new-old amber.
Likewise, there are some amazing specimens of fossil fish coming out of China, where their skins are fantastically preserved so you can easily see individual scales. Only, a lot of them are completely identical. They're not cast replicas, though: they took an original, cast or machined a negative in metal, then put pieces of slate on top of the negative and vibrated it until it has excavated a perfect copy into the slate -- so it's pure, natural, ancient rock with something that looks exactly like a fossil. In fact, it's pretty hard to tell the difference even for people who know fossils, unless they have a microscope and some time to inspect the edges where the fossil meets the rock.
He said there are also loads of intricate fossils, stuff with lots of fine features (like the tentacles on squids) that have actually been broken off, and a talented fossil restorer has just cut a new one in the rock itself to make the fossil look complete.

All of these, like the fake antiques, have made the real ones less expensive -- but at the same time, they make a market larger, because more people can afford to buy, and at some point that could make the demand rise sharply overall, even though the individual pieces cost less, still contributing to increased demand for originals.

So now we know how God made... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836411)

So now we know how God made all those fossils to test the faith of his followers against belief in "evolution".

Thousands of years (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835707)

This scam has been going on for thousands of years -- many religious relics are fake, most notably the heads of John the Baptist [catholicnewsagency.com] (Catholic News Agency; also referred to by Umberto Eco in his mediaeval novels).

More controversially, the Our Lady of Guadalupe icon in Mexico also has a very uncertain provenance.

Re:Thousands of years (2, Informative)

gordguide (307383) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836647)

Wow, and if people would just RTFA, they could save themselves a lot of typing:

" ... It is true that fakes have been around for centuries. In 1886, the celebrated Smithsonian archaeologist W. H. Holmes described countless bogus antiquities in Mexico. A few decades later, Egyptologist T. G. Wakeling noted that many ancient Egyptian artifacts were, in fact, fakes. In the 19th century, American and European museums purchased large numbers of "Etruscan" ceramic vessels and sarcophagi that came straight from the kilns of rural Italian farmers. ..."

Actually, it is illegal (2, Informative)

Nekomusume (956306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27835889)

"selling fake artifacts isn't really illegal."

If you pretend it's real, it's fraud.

Re:Actually, it is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836327)

True, but the person injured in that case is the person who was attempting to buy an illegally looted artifact. They aren't likely in any position to push the issue. Certainly it is much less of an issue than getting caught importing illegally stolen cultural artifacts. Also, the person who made the fake is very likely not doing anything illegal. The reseller knows it is fake, and the manufacturer probably isn't responsible for how it is advertised to the end buyer. The 'producer' of the real deal is definitely doing something illegal.

Which they don't (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836363)

They are very careful to avoid actually saying that the items are artifacts.

Anyway, what are you going to do, tell the police you bought an item you thought was illegal and it turned out it wasn't? Go ahead, cops deserve a laugh now and then. I am sure they will drop all the murder and rape cases and jump right on top of it. Just like cops jump on copy right infringement (note that the police doesn't, only prosecutors looking for a lucrative job after their public service).

Re:Which they don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27837001)

It's the same reason those Nigerian scam emails don't get the attention of law enforcement.

Scammer: "I am the deposed prince of Nigeria. Please help me commit wire fraud by giving me your account details. I'll pay you back, honest."
Idiot: "Sounds good!"

Said idiot goes to the police after he finds out all his money is gone. They laugh themselves silly. Never mind that the scammer is undoubtedly out of their jurisdiction, there's also the small matter of the fraud that the idiot was trying to aid and abet.

Must see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836245)

Genuine Egyptian Mummy case!

Real Mummy's curse included!

Totally legal, and licensed by the Royal authority of Egytpian Antiquities!

If all the stuff in your house doesn't disappear after the curse, your money back guaranteed!

Numismats (4, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836275)

Case in point: my father collects roman coins and is quite expert. Recently he bought a coin on eBay that appeared perfectly real. But then some time later the same coin was for sale again. He contacted the other buyer and they traded high-res pics: they were identical down to the same defects. He then started a private inquiry on the buyers which led him to some russian (what a surprise) groups that sell perfect fakes on the Internet to people who want to then sell them on eBay. They do mass quantities (in the thousands). They even guarantee them against several types of scientific tests (including fluorescence and mass spectrography) ! I have no idea how they can do that, unless they have access to a certain amount of 2000 year old copper and other metals.

Re:Numismats (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836683)

Has any copper actually been "made" in the past 2000 years? Wouldn't it all by definition be ancient?

Of course, the trace elements in it could identify it as coming from Somewhere Else.

Re:Numismats (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836725)

russian (what a surprise) groups that sell perfect fakes on the Internet to people who want to then sell them on eBay. They do mass quantities (in the thousands). They even guarantee them against several types of scientific tests (including fluorescence and mass spectrography) ! I have no idea how they can do that, unless they have access to a certain amount of 2000 year old copper and other metals.

By cornering the market on mass spectrometers, of course!

Re:Numismats (2, Insightful)

ionymous (1216224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836975)

They even guarantee them against several types of scientific tests (including fluorescence and mass spectrography) ! I have no idea how they can do that

They're criminals. They can say they guarantee anything. Maybe the coins actually fail these tests, but once you've purchased it, what do they care?

Re:Numismats (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27838091)

Yeah, if you took them to court for selling you improperly-made forgeries, I doubt the judge would offer a whole lot of sympathy.

Re:Numismats (5, Informative)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837071)

as someone who owns a Roman coin I've looked into this (I've only got the one because my collection is primarily of hammered English silver coins). Silver which has been out of the ground and moulded for 2000 years or so takes on some certain characteristics which set it apart as being old, so you do actually need old coins to pull off convincing fakes. How they make money on it is in melting down (or at least heating up) the coins and then remoulding them into more expensive (i.e. rarer) coins. The roman coin I've got was a little over £20 (from a reputable dealer) because it is of an unpopular Emperor and was found with a lot of others - if you can re-hammer a £20 coin into a £200 coin you can see where the profit comes from

What really bothers me about all this though is less the ripping people off (which is annoying, but so far I don't think I've been got - hint: buying only relatively inexpensive coins and insisting on knowing providence on more expensive ones helps) but more that these people are destroying the world's history to turn some quick money now (for the same reason I don't support irresponsible metal detector users - you need to report any important find!)

Re:Numismats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27837185)

eBay now has new "protections" that hides the bidders usernames. Such investigations are now impossible to do.

Re:Numismats (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837289)

Ever tried collecting on one of those warranties? The licensing agreement is murder.

Re:Numismats (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837319)

what's the difference between copper that was dug up 2000 years ago and copper that was dug up yesterday?

I'm no expert, but if we're talking about non-organics, my guess is that the only way to tell the difference between authentic objects and fakes is workmanship - and since roman currency was made by pounding an ingot with a stamp - it seems reasonably easy to replicate that as well.

Re:Numismats (1)

gawaino (1191849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837909)

Ancient copper was refined differently and contains trace elements. Also, metal produced since atomic tests of the 1950's will show background radiation.

Buyer beware (1)

netscan (1028690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836407)

It should go without saying that buying anything at auction, meatspace or digital, is a risky venture if you don't know what you're buying.
A fool and their money are soon parted, eBay just makes the process easier for the scammer.

Re:Buyer beware (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837335)

that's why I buy all my pre-columbian artifacts on amazon's marketplace.

So you see, Dr. Jones... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27836701)

there is nothing you can possess that I cannot duplicate.

So you see Dr. Jones... (1)

decalod85 (1214532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27836751)

there is nothing that you possess that I cannot duplicate and sell on Ebay!

Ebay changes everything (1)

ememisya (1548255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837025)

Part of making a system which allows for making purchases globally extremely easy is screwing with the local economy of any area which largely has access to that system. Just imagine what will happen in the streets if marijuana was legalized and people started selling it online.

Direct Modern Analog: Cracking DRM (3, Interesting)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837309)

What we are seeing here is the archeological equivalent of cracking DRM.

Once pieces can be reproduced indistinguishably from the real thing at cost X, the value of the real thing trends towards X.

Archeology's DRM has been cracked.

Not just artifacts. (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27837723)

The same has occured with the trade of endangered plant species to an extent.

The illegal trade of endangered flora has let to the destruction or near destruction of many species. Ebay sales have allowed people to trade plants that were grown in private collections rather than habitat and due to the risk of illegal habitat smuggling of plants, people growing them in cultivation can undercut those selling plants taken illegally from habitat.

This has allowed some highly endangered species to recover as the pressure from illegal smuggling has died away due to it not being worth the time for smugglers when mass growing at plant nurseries means they can be undercut to the point it's not even worth the smugglers driving to the habitat, let alone risking doing the smuggling itself.

Ironically though, the international process designed to help protect endangered species - CITES - actually hampers this because it prevents international trade of endangered plants even if they were grown purely in private collections and never grown in habitat, whilst smugglers ignore such regulations anyway.

As with this and as with artifacts there's a lot to be said about free trade of fakes, or in this case - privately and responsibly grown plants rather than restriction of it. It allows market forces to undercut costs of authentic specimens to the point where it's simply not worth smuggling from a monetary point of view. If more was done to support the trade of "fakes" rather than hamper it as per CITES I think decline of smuggling would actually help - it's better to prevent smuggling at the source and protect habitat than it is to try and catch it at the ports because again, smugglers will avoid the ports anyway.

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