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Let the buyer be wary: Tips to spot knockoffs

Counterfeit goods are rampant on the Internet; here are a few tips for identifying fakes.

Counterfeit goods are rampant on the Internet, and buyers using online auction sites like eBay are especially vulnerable. Artwork, jewelry, designer accessories, autographed sports memorabilia and other collectibles are popular among counterfeiters.

Here are a few tips for spotting fakes.

Know your merchandise. If you learn, for instance, that a certain cookie jar from the 1930s is a rare collectible and you see someone selling dozens of them at low prices, consider yourself warned that it is probably counterfeit.


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Look at the starting bid price. If it is low, be suspicious. Prices that seem too enticing are a reason for wariness, according to Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman.

Look for a certificate of authenticity from a reputable appraiser that has been scanned into the listing.

Know your seller. Take the time to look at the details of a seller's feedback. A good sign is a comment from a satisfied buyer who took the extra step to have an item appraised, then reported back on its authenticity.

If there is any negative feedback, scrutinize it carefully. Be wary if you see that a seller has listed dozens of identical items.

If you buy an item that you believe is counterfeit, and you used PayPal, you are likely to have recourse under the PayPal buyer protection system.

In an effort to streamline the process of reporting suspicious listings, this spring eBay will include a "report this item" button on each listing.

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