Counterfeit Pokemon Cards
Hank Investigates: Counterfeit Pokemon Cards
- Ray Capodanno, US Customs
"We have to pursue this on a daily basis. It's a never ending task."
It's anything but child's play. Customs agents have the goods. You might think it's illegal drugs or contrabands. But no.
It's counterfeits of the hottest toy trend in America: Pokemon paraphernalia, especially the mega-popular trading cards.
"How big of a problem is this?"
Patrick O'Malley, Customs
"It's becoming bigger everyday."
Nintendo holds the Pokemon copyright. It says $14 dollars of counterfeit products have already been seized nationwide. Authentic sellers are on guard.
- Sally Carver, Boston Beanies and Collectibles
"There's big counterfeit rings going on. There were in Beanies and they're definitely are in Pokemon."
Customs believes some fakes come from the US, but say many are from Taiwan, Japan and China are smuggled in and distributed around the states.
"How do they get here?"
"We do a pretty good job, but we can't get them all."
Alex Caci, 9, of Walpole knows all about it. He paid about $15 in Chinatown for these cards that turned out to be phony.
"I don't feel good having fake Pokemon cards, I could get in trouble if I wanted to trade some and I didn't realize they weren't real."
The Oppedisano kids of Malden bought their fake Pokemon cards on Cape Cod. Their mom was outraged.
- Ann Oppedisano, Malden
"They just wanted to trash them because they're trash, not worth anything to them."
Real Pokemon cards are produced by Wizards of the Coast, the only company authorized by Nintendo to make them.
Genuine cards are big business. A pack of 11 trading cards costs about $7. And you'll pay upwards of $50 for some of the most desired cards like Charizard.
- Robert, Collects Pokemon Cards
"Most every kid in school collects them."
But could your children unknowingly buy fakes? We easily bought counterfeits in two shops.
"Do you think this is going to get worse?"
Patrick O'Malley, Customs
"When there's an outcry for demand as it is with Pokemon, we can only see it getting worse between now and Christmas."
That means kids and their parents have to police their own Pokemon purchases.
- Nick Sterne, Collects Pokemon Cards
"I open them right when I get out and then if they're fake, I go back in and say these are fake. I want my money back."
So how can you tell a counterfeit from the real deal? We asked the experts.
"Now how do you know these cards are real?"
"See how you can't see through it? Yeah, well, if you can see through it, it's fake."
Hold the cards up to the light. If you can see through them, they're counterfeit.
Next look at the blurry letters.
- Sally Carver
"You can see the colors are different, the printing isn't as good."
And be sure to examine the packaging. Experts say cards come wrapped in clear plastic like the ones we found on Kneeland street are probably fake.
"How do you know those cards are real? The came in a real pack."
And here's what officials fear will create the next crisis in Pokemon mania. The Pokemon movie hits theaters later this month and experts warn parents to be prepared for a new round of counterfeits.
- Ann Oppedisano
"It makes me angry because you know these people are just in it for the money."
Nintendo says remember, trading cards aren't the only problem. Counterfeiters are reproducing hundreds of Pokemon products including plush toys, action figures and school supplies. But it's buyer beware. Experts say if you buy fakes, there's little legal recourse. You'll be out the money and for collectors, the items are worthless
Nintendo takes this problem so seriously, it's actually training customs agents and store owners on how to identify counterfeits.