Catching a Scam: Knowing What to Look for When Purchasing Collectibles Online

As the old addage says “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This is something you will always want to keep in mind when shopping online. While some reputable online sellers will run regular promotions, most people online are just trying to get top dollar for their merchandise.

The first thing you must always consider when shopping online is who is the retailer. You’re typically safer buying things online from major brick and mortar retailers as they will run different sales online and usually provide more products online as well. If needed you can also return most online purchases to the retailers in store.

When buying any sort of collectible online you want to be extra careful about your purchase as in demand items are frequently faked. If you see an item you’re looking for on the website for Wal-Mart, you’re most likely in the clear, but if you are looking at a listing on eBay, with generic pictures, and only a Buy It Now price, take a minute and look at what you’re doing. Typically eBay is good on returns and filing claims if items show up not as described in the ads but it’s still best to not deal with that ordeal.

One type of item I see faked very often are figures of any kind, especially anime themed figures or anything coming originally from Japan. So if you’re looking at Figma figures for example, make sure you get pictures of the actual item when shopping online. Red flags to look for include terms like new out of box, or any excuses for why the item might not be or not include it’s original packaging. Every retailer selling figures as new will always sell them new in box, and nearly every collector will keep their figures in the box as most collectors do. 

Always make sure to read descriptions as some sellers online will use language to their advantage. Some will rely on poor translations to to trick some buyers and other sellers might try using small fine print at the bottom of long descriptions. For this the only thing you can really do is take the time to look at all associated text and try to discern what the sellers intent might be.

Sometimes though you’ll find incredibly well priced items that are clearly knock-offs. In this case unless you absolutely want the genuine article, these fakes can be a viable option. I recently purchased a few Figma and Nenderoid figures that are almost definitely fakes, but they look like the real thing and include all the correct accessories. Quality though is a factor as they are typically of a lesser quality but with something like a figure it is usually acceptable.

I’ll say that typically the more involved an item is, like an iPod or smartphone, don’t ever substitute it for a fake. If it is something like a figure, toy, poster or anything else like that, fakes can be nearly indistinguishable from the genuine item.

If you have the means to spend as much as you like on an item then you should always make sure to buy from reputible sellers online or in store, but if you are a collector on a budget, then knock-off figures and such can be a great alternative for display pieces, and you won’t have to worry about possibly damaging the typically expensive original figures.

So in review always be mindful of how online sellers display and present their products and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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