A Question for the Readers #18: Phony-ing It In

Monetary transactions should be a no-brainer, right? Someone has something you want, you pay them money, and they will turn over ownership of the item to you in exchange. However, things aren’t always that simple. Sometimes, the proprietor runs into a shipping error or perhaps they oversold their stock. Then there are times in which it turns out the item you purchased was, in some way, a fake. I know I have, on occasion run into situations in which I have come across some less-than-scrupulous sellers.

EBay in particular was a source of three bogus purchases for me. I once attempted to purchase a copy of Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals back in 2011. The seller insisted it was in “Like New” condition. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only was the label severely damaged, the internal battery was dead and had to be replaced. Neither of these aspects were made clear; the seller didn’t provide a picture and yet he insisted it was pristine. The seller then refused to take back the item even after I told him it was defective, and eBay ended up ruling in his favor. Thankfully, I ended up getting the last laugh when I not only successfully replaced the battery, but also sold the cartridge for a higher price than what I purchased it for, which also covered the cost of the replacement battery.

The following year, I decided to see if I could get my hands on some Super Famicom cartridges. I learned of a trick that allows you to play them on a SNES console. All you have to do is remove two tabs from the inside of the console, and you can play a Japanese cartridge on it no problem. The first three games I ended up getting were Trials of Mana, Live A Live, and Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (I later got Treasure of the Rudras after I mentioned Live A Live to GameStop clerk). A few months later, I wanted to see if I could get a copy of Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 as well. Released in 1999, which was three years after the release of the Nintendo 64, it is extremely rare cartridge, so I was ecstatic when I found a copy for about $40 from a seller in Thailand. Unfortunately, I quickly determined the cartridge was fake when A) it weighed more than a real Super Famicom cartridge and B) the text was rendered in English. Normally, one might think this is a good thing, but not only was the translation bad, the text didn’t display properly, rendering the goodwill moot. Unlike the above case, however, I was able to return it without a fuss – it wasn’t even that expensive.


As you all know, I’ve been reviewing the mainline Pokémon games along with spinoffs when I can. I realized ahead of time that I wanted to review the entire series, so I wanted to look into Pokémon Platinum. That way, I could play the generation I ended up skipping. By 2018, however, the cards became quite expensive, so when someone was selling them new on eBay for $30, I thought something was a bit off. A cursory glance online revealed that there were indeed people circulating counterfeit cards and how to spot the difference between a real one and a fake. Armed with that knowledge, I took a chance on the seller and made my purchase. Sure enough, using the guide I was given, I could easily spot the sham (specifically, the Nintendo logo’s font was incorrect). The seller must have realized that he had no leg to stand on, for I was allowed to return it. It was a bit expensive, but I did end up getting a real card, hence why I was able to review it a few months back.

Now, it may seem as though this is a pretty damning statement on the quality of eBay’s sellers, but in reality, I’ve gone through this process in brick-and-mortar stores as well. One time, I attempted to purchase a copy of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for the PlayStation 3. When I got home, I realized I instead got a copy of the original Battlefield: Bad Company. The good news is that for all of GameStop’s many, many faults, they do have accountability when it comes to false purchases, and they fixed the error on return. The bad news is that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has the dishonor of being one of the few games I ever quit despite making significant progress in it (hey, it’s not my fault the campaign was boring as all get-out).

This isn’t even limited to video games. One time, I ordered a copy of an album called Silent Shout by Swedish electronica outfit The Knife. The music store from which I purchased it goofed up and instead of ordering a copy of the actual album, they ordered a CD that had several remixes of the song “Silent Shout” that happened to be entitled Silent Shout. When I confronted the manager with this information, he abjectly refused to give me a full refund, though after a five-minute argument, he finally agreed to refund the amount of a used CD, which meant I was only out two dollars.

So now it’s your turn.

Have you ever purchased anything that turned out to be phony?

15 thoughts on “A Question for the Readers #18: Phony-ing It In

  1. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never bought anything that turned out to be fake. I do own a few Nendoroid figures, but I’m pretty sure they’re real — if one of them is fake, I’ll commend the counterfeiters for their dedication to quality. I’ve heard there’s a massive amount of fake Nendos on the market, probably because the things are so damn expensive. Those are the two reasons I only own a few of my very favorite characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, you see, in this case, if it’s a particularly good fake, it’s just as valuable as the real thing. That’s not usually the case with game cards, though; the Pokémon Platinum card being low in price is what caused me to smell a rat. Sure enough, it was too good to be true.

      Which Nendoroid figures do you have?

      Liked by 2 people

      • True enough — the main problem with bootleg figures is poor quality, after all. If what I’ve bought is basically identical to the real thing, I’m fine. I have seen footage of some bootleg Pokemon games on Youtube, though, and you can tell something’s wrong with them from the very first screen.

        I’ve got Patchouli from the Touhou Project series, Futaba from Persona 5, Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night, and Etna and Flonne from Disgaea 1. There are a few more I’d buy if they weren’t so damn expensive, but those high prices are fair for the quality you get.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember a 17 year old me bought a few videogames from the discount bin at our local dvd and games store. It was 3 for £10 and I only wanted two of them. I randomly picked a first person shooter as my 3rd and went home with my purchases. To my surprise, inside the case of the game I didn’t want was a porno dvd 😂

    17 year old me was thrilled to find that. Even more thrilled when I was able to sell it to a friend for most of the money I paid for all 3 items.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure I managed to procure a music CD or game in such a fashion, though I don’t quite remember right now. And I know I was able to sell a few items I got for free that I didn’t need. That’s always a treat.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually just wrote a collection piece on this topic myself after getting my first phony- and not terribly well done- cartridge of Fire Emblem for the GBA. Sounds a bit like your Thracia situation (and there are a LOT of fake Fire Emblem games floating around out there) but the back description was just a description of how the game plays mechanically in incredibly broken English among other issues.

    The seller fought me when I left negative feedback and threatened counteraction until I sent them an extensive rundown of how the game was inauthentic. Then they just said they would never do business with me again. lol

    I can get why people would do it- there’s money to be had- but it’s so morally wrong, especially when most of the time, games like those are being taken in by collectors. They’re clearly going to do some research on the item they’ve bought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeez, let’s hope nobody puts that person in charge of any major business deal because their negotiation skills are terrible (their inability to take criticism is pretty appalling as well). The Thracia cartridge wasn’t even the right color, so even with my limited knowledge, I knew I was had. Luckily, they took it back. Ironically, the worst seller of the three was the one who had possession of a real cartridge.

      Yeah, this is what makes the medium so much different than others. Gaming is probably one of the only mediums in which you really can’t pull the wool over the demographic’s eyes, so I question why people think they can scam them easily.


    • It was certainly a good thing that I researched these matters beforehand. I got lucky that in most cases, they took it back without any fuss. Ironically, the one seller who sold a real copy was the least scrupulous.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I ended up with a fake copy of Doctor Who season 2 from eBay. Seller refunded me when I called him on it and I didn’t have to return it either. Ever since then I’ve been careful and somewhat wary of eBay!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I suppose I had run into a phony seller. Was trying to get my hands on some Atari 8bit carts
    (Blue Max especially) and bought one off an eBay seller who kept telling me postage was delayed. Went on for a while until I complained to eBay and got a refund. Saw another cart advertised again and turned out to be the same guy with the same excuse so another complaint again and my money back. Still haven’t got a copy of that game…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s especially bad when the seller has a rare item. That reminds me of when I purchased a rare music CD last year only for the post office to drop the ball by losing it for a few days. It took me many trips to the post office to get them to sort things out, but it did finally arrive in the end, thankfully. If you’re looking for Atari 8-bit cards, you might want to look into M.U.L.E. because from what I’ve heard, that’s a really good one.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I got one of the seasons of Doctor Who through eBay. Had been marathoning through a friend’s copy, and figured I should pick it up myself. I got it, and that packaging was pretty high quality, but the printing was slightly off from my friend’s copy of it. The characters were printed on the outside rather than the inside of the transparent sleeve, and the box had a somewhat different texture. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t have another copy of the DVDs at hand, but I was able to get it returned and pick the real one up myself.

    I bought a season of Haibane Renmei through Amazon’s Marketplace that, I don’t know for sure whether or not it’s bootleg, but I’m given to wonder about. Seller mentioned that he gets Region 0 releases, which a lot of people think are bootleg, but are truly legit. Just from other parts of the globe. I’m not sure about that.

    And I’ve picked up a few DVDs I found out upon getting home were phony from various used media stores and flea markets while visiting family in New Mexico. Seems to be just part of the equation when you’re shopping there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Considering how long that show has gone on for, I can imagine marathoning the series would be quite the undertaking. I have to admit I haven’t gotten into Doctor Who because I have no idea where to begin. I can imagine that those episodes that have been, well, lost to the aether, would be a source of endless irritation for most fans. I can see some scammers claiming to have copies of the missing episodes. Good thing your friend helped you identify a fake, huh?

      Region 0 is a weird way of phrasing it. I think I would’ve just said “Region-free”. Region 0 kind of conveys that point, but it also sounds illegal – like you accessed a number that shouldn’t have been accessed.

      And flea markets are always a bit of a gamble, aren’t they? Some guy in Georgia managed to find a NES cartridge at a flea market that contained bags of heroin.

      Liked by 1 person

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