I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I did a search and couldn't find anything by glancing at the topics.
Over the last year, I have seen more and more fugazi chinese ripoffs of authentic quality gear on the web. They seem to really enjoy copying optics and mounts especially, but I have also seen stocks and bipods. Some of this garbage is easy to spot, but some have proven to be a challenge. This is especially true if you aren't well versed with the authentic product.
Today, I spotted a phony stamped Larue LT 172 on gunbroker. Although it was easy to spot, it is conceivable how an unsuspecting individual could be heisted while looking for a deal on a Larue mount. There was a $25 bid with a 'buy now' for $35. Here is the link:
I got hoaxed last year on a Magpul PRS, when a scummy guy in TX misleadingly passed it off for the real deal. Nobody to blame but myself for not handling real merchandise before buying questionable stuff, as well as not fully questioning an ambiguous listing. Luckily I was able to get out of the bad deal.
This year, I unknowingly bot a fugazi Harris 6-9" SBR (note that this is NOT the bipod I have for sale here!!!). At a glance, you could not tell the difference. It even felt like a Harris, and the functionality was virtually the same. However, there are a few little things that were the telltale signs:
1. There is no Harris stamp on the frame; an obvious but overlooked sign, and should not be relied upon since any communist could easily stamp some metal.
2. If it is a swivel model, the knob is different, and you cannot get a wrench in there to remove it to install a Pod Lock.
Here are some simple common sense modalities to consider when buying accessories, especially online in auctions and forums. Some of this I learned through my own mistakes:
1. If the price looks too sweet, keep your guard up. This is especially true for auctions with discounted "buy now" prices. If nobody has inquired, bought or bid on something that is 1/2 MSRP for like a whole day, chances are that the mob knows something is up. The probability of you being privy or seeing something hidden is very small. This is not to say that all good deals are phony, as there are many out there. However, history shows that most good deals are over quickly. For example, search this site for the last Atlas bipod that sold for $190. That took what, like 6 minutes?
2. Be aware of the term "style" in the subject header, especially on eBay and gunbroker. These guys are using a lawyer style tactic of lying without actually lying. I noticed that some of these "style" type auctions have long winded ambiguous descriptions of the product, sometimes in small print. They are obviously doing this for a reason...to mislead you and me. If I were legitimately selling a ripoff of something, in a short description I would put in bold lettering "This is not an actual widget, but merely a widget clone with the same function."
3. If the product is something you reeeeaalllly want, try to handle an authentic one first, before shopping around in auctions and 'for sale' posts. Know what the item looks like and feels like. Look for markings of authenticity, and note the font, color, location and method of marking. If something is metal when it is normally carbon fiber, be suspicious. Call the manufacturer and ask if there has been variation in production or multiple generations of product. However, it is understandable that this may be difficult with items that are hard to come by. But these are the times when you are most vulnerable, so take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. i.e. you have been waiting for a Magpul UBR stock or an Aimpoint 3X magnifier for so long, and you finally found one for sale!!! Check the item title, seller origin, and read the description word for word. If something doesn't feel right, the deal may be sour. The good thing is that if this is an auction, the transactions are monitored by eBay, Paypal (dirty anti-gunners), as well as Gunbroker, and the buyer has more clout than the seller.
4. A seller with poor communication is a red flag. i.e. you emailed the seller with a question, but he/she doesn't get back to you for a few days; when he/she finally does, the reply is a cut/paste or the response is ambiguous or doesn't sound like fluent english. Also, establish communication after the auction is over. The seller should be the one to establish first contact, unless you are so quick that you beat him to it. Don't pay for it until he/she addresses you, preferably by name. Case in point, months before I got scammed on the PRS, I won an "authentic" PRS for like $190. At the end of the auction, I sent an email to confirm. I didn't hear back from the guy for almost 5 days. A month went by, but still no PRS. During this time, I had been emailing the seller periodically and getting the same 5 day delayed response. He finally admitted that he was waiting to get them in stock. In my book, auctioning something that you don't physically have is fraud. I contacted eBay and Paypal, and in a couple of days, my account was credited, and I never heard from the seller again. I checked back soon after, and the seller's handle was gone from eBay. He obviously either lost his ability to sell due to scams or incompetence, or pulled the handle himself because it was tainted with my negative rating, and probably created another handle.
I am sure that everyone on this site knows that fake chinese merchandise is out there in full force. As far as business goes, the chinese are a bunch of turds (btw my gf is chinese). They have zero ethics and are only concerned with putting product out on the market, regardless of quality. They are not innovators; they are copiers. They would rather mislead people into thinking they are buying authentic merchandise than do some homework and create their own.
In addition to the chinese, the europeans have run scams in online auctions and "for sale" postings. I haven't seen much of them in the gun world, but I have seen plenty of it years ago in electronics. In 2002, I saw a ton of guys on Ubid.com selling plasma TV's for 20% of retail. Obviously, something was up, and this was confirmed when the replies received were in broken english, and they insisted on payment thru Western Union. They either personally successfully snagged some poor suckers, or heard of swindling success from friends, or they wouldn't have wasted their time posting shit for sale.
Take home message: keep your guard up and protect yourself at all times.