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Proving fraud on a criminal level could be very difficult, but a civil suit only relies on the "preponderance of the evidence" for a successful win. Perhaps Colt Archive Services could try to pursue someone civilly?

That said, the person(s) doing this could be fairly "judgement proof," but if Colt Archive Services did pursue someone civilly -- assuming they can locate the likely party doing this -- it would send a strong message that could be effective in helping to stop this sort of activity. And sometimes starting a civil suit will result in enough evidence coming forward for a criminal fraud prosecution.

Not only is the person buying the gun with the fake letter being ripped off, Colt Archive Services' good reputation is being damaged by this sort of activity. (With the counterfeiting of boxes for models no longer being made, it might be difficult for Colt to argue its business reputation has been damaged, but with a counterfeit Letter, Colt Archive Services is clearly being harmed.)

Hopefully, Colt Archive Services will be having a lawyer evaluate its possible options and perhaps join in a civil suit an affected gun purchaser might bring against whomever sold him the gun when it is determined a counterfeit Letter is involved.
The fraudulent use of copyrighted trademarks usually doesn't require a lengthy lawsuit to shut down the counterfeiters. Usually, corporate counsels can get a "cease and desist" order very quickly.

I worked at Ford Motor Company for over 38 years, and we had (and still do) our share of counterfeit parts, clothing, etc. Our counsel usually went to the appropriate U.S. Attorney's office, filed an expedited complaint, and a judge would usually issue an immediate cease and desist order immediately. The U.S. Marshal Service would conduct a raid and confiscate everything in sight. There was also a great amount of cooperation between Ford, GM, and Chrysler.

I would guess that Colt would be able to file an action in the appropriate Tennessee Federal Court and get an injunction against "Blovit" or "Vikrant" and put an end to it.

I guess the hardest part I have in understanding the problem, is that the Colt Combat Commander and LWT Commander names are jealously guarded. The other manufacturer's of such pistols always refer to them as "Commander like", etc.

In my mind the corporate name of Colt is a most valuable commodity, and I'd put Blovit out of business yesterday.
 

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I would think that unless Colt had trademarked the boxes and their design and appearance, there's probably not much they can legally do. Showing damages would be difficult. The Colt logo is trademarked I believe...that would be the most likely legal avenue. A cease and desist order could be sent out but that's kinda like playing whack-a-mole. Maybe Colt's attorneys have addressed it and decided this orange isn't worth the squeeze?
 

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The saddest part of this equation is when I think about my friend calling me about the gun he bought and after he said "it has a factory letter and everything", and my response of "a letter with a Python doesn't mean sh#t anymore". That is a sad state of affairs and tough for the folks at the gun companies who work so hard doing archive work and historical searches that is so important to what we do. I felt horrible saying it, especially after my recent excitement over getting a letter from Colt that documented that a gun I had was a significant pistol historically. Terrible situation.
 

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As to 'fake box guy' and lawsuits and everything - Colt would have to 'want' to do it - and they don't...

At one time, they vigorously pursued copyright violations, as did 'all' of the manufacturers - but those lawsuits seem to be a thing of the past.

Educate yourself and others on how to spot fakery all you want - rail against the 'wrongness of it all' all you want - wring your hands and watch your blood pressure rise all you want - but at the end of the day, he'll 'still' be doing business because even some of the most virulent haters will still be buying and aging his efforts and selling 'paper products' to the greedy and ill-informed.

In this instance, Colt missed the boat in not subcontracting with him to produce a 'usable collector's storage item' for them, and mark it in a barely-visible spot - they'd have sold, and well.

But Colt couldn't have 'possibly' known the fervor with which folks would pursue the 'wrapping' they'd put around their using product line - no one could - had they been that prescient, do you think they'd have allowed those Styrofoam 'things' to even touch their wares, when not long before, they'd had those nice, wood-grain, 'fitted' cardboard boxes?

Sam Colt would have divined the 'perceived value' early on, were that the case, and savvy promoter and marketer he was - he'd've seized on it and exploited it somehow.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Gentleman,

I would like to limit the discussion on this thread to awareness & sharing of potential altered and fraudulent letters and their accompanying serial numbers and not delve into a number of other topics, most of which have been discussed at great length in other threads on this forum.
 

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Gentleman,

I would like to limit the discussion on this thread to awareness & sharing of potential altered and fraudulent letters and their accompanying serial numbers and not delve into a number of other topics, most of which have been discussed at great length in other threads on this forum.
OK
 

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I'm not sure a posting of fakes would be a good idea.
All that would do is give the fakers information to improve their "product".

On the other hand it might save a few people new to Colt's, but I'd question how many would bother to find the Colt Forum.

As to the actions against counterfeiters of brand name items, you'll see news stories of Federal Marshals seizing counterfeit name brand watches, purses, sunglasses, perfume, and all sorts of faked products.
A couple of years ago there was a news story showing a road roller crushing a huge pile of counterfeit watches laid out on a New York street.

I also think that a formal "Cease and desist" letter would have a real chilling effect on the blatant big sellers of fake Colt items.
 

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I'm not sure a posting of fakes would be a good idea.
All that would do is give the fakers information to improve their "product".
I feel certain what Paul meant (as he said earlier) was discuss fake letters BUT do not post them. Instead send an image to him at the archives so he and Beverly can check it out for you.
 

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Paul just throwing out an idea, maybe you could post all known fake serial # letters in one spot and add fakes there as you get them. As an example you could edit your second post in this thread. It would be a handy tool to find all known fakes at one place.
 

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Discussion Starter #32
Paul just throwing out an idea, maybe you could post all known fake serial # letters in one spot and add fakes there as you get them. As an example you could edit your second post in this thread. It would be a handy tool to find all known fakes at one place.
This is precisely what I will be doing. Great minds, thinking alike sir!
 

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Paul just throwing out an idea, maybe you could post all known fake serial # letters in one spot and add fakes there as you get them. As an example you could edit your second post in this thread. It would be a handy tool to find all known fakes at one place.
With this thread, I am reminded of another collectible that is frequently counterfeited and copied. Donating much time and expertise regarding Gold and Silver here is how the community alerts others of the issue. It does help the cause..
Paul, for your review and thoughts, I ask that you click onto the following.
Home
and then click the Counterfeits heading.
Just a heads up.
 

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I used to know a dealer in antique firearms who wound up with a pallet-load of high-rag-content 'old' paper - really 'good' paper of the type that's seriously difficult to find today, but was in general use decades ago by numerous large firms - the various firearms manufacturers among them.

He also had a number of old, functioning manual typewriters in excellent condition, and a supply of fountain pens and ink...

(You can see where this is headed, can't you? - I knew you could...)

Over the course of years of doing business, he wound up with a number of original factory letters, and he filed them away, charging the buyer 'extra', because he 'had to go back to the family' to acquire them 'just' for the buyer.

A friend owned a printing shop, and for a small supply of said paper, got into the printing of factory letterhead for several manufacturers and different letterhead for different eras.

The typewriters and pens were soon put to use, and 'Wah-Laa!' - Factory Letters appeared to go with just about anything - even in cases where the actual factory couldn't provide one because of a fire's destruction of records.

He even branched out, and created Capture Documents for various Axis sidearms, and DCM documents, too, after he'd created an 'all-matching' Garand or Carbine, or re-did a service pistol (back in the day, no one looked very hard at any GI piece with papers).

Eventually, he and his sidekick were found out and banned from several shows, but all that did was slow them down, and cause someone else to 'beard' for them.

Both are gone, now - but it makes one wonder how many of this sort of paper exist, since I'm certain they weren't to only ones.
 

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If there's money to be made without much effort involved, there's always some unscrupulous person willing to take advantage of it. The sad thing is there's always crooks like that and far too many buying the story and getting duped out of their money.
 

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Interesting how, regardless of the collection interest, the topic of should we publish the pictures of fakes slows up. I have collected US military insignia for many years, primarily wings (thus the name “wingcollector”) and patches. The editor of a collecting group I belong to, told me of an incident that happened in the heyday of eBay. He published a photo of a rare very patch in the organizations publication, but the printer screwed up and inadvertently changed the color of the small part of the patch design. Sure enough in a couple of months, that very patch, with the wrong color, started appearing on eBay. He then published the corrected picture in a later issue, but that fake version is still out there.
My view (which others have stated) is that if there is big money to be made, dishonest people will do whatever they need to make money. The WWII German collectable market, for example, has been destroyed by these types of people. In the area of the Colt letters discussed here, the crude fakes are not the ones to worry about. And, I would love to see some examples. It is the sophisticated ones we really need to see, alongside of some real examples.
I hate say it, but having taught Photoshop for many years, I am sure that with the right equipment almost any letter could be reproduced and be almost undetectable, if you have a real one to work from. BUT knowledge in power, and I would advocate fakes letter thread, and some (lower res) examples of what a real one looks like.
 

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This thread started out warning of counterfeit letters, but then altered letters was mentioned. I would think that a counterfeit letter would be a newly made letter, and altered would be an original letter that has been changed. Which one or are both involved?
 

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...if there is big money to be made, dishonest people will do whatever they need to make money. The WWII German collectable market, for example, has been destroyed by these types of people. In the area of the Colt letters discussed here, the crude fakes are not the ones to worry about. And, I would love to see some examples. It is the sophisticated ones we really need to see, alongside of some real examples.
I hate say it, but having taught Photoshop for many years, I am sure that with the right equipment almost any letter could be reproduced and be almost undetectable, if you have a real one to work from. BUT knowledge in power, and I would advocate fakes letter thread, and some (lower res) examples of what a real one looks like.
I emphatically agree. The piece of paper is not what is valuable. What is valuable is the PROOF of the particular features of the gun. Colt owns that proof, and can supply a statement of what they've found for a fee. The best way to verify the features of a gun would be an instantaneous database lookup, i.e. a digitized Colt ledger. That way, a guy at a gun show can wave a piece of paper at me "proving" the Colt was shipped to Clyde Barrow, but I could look up the genuine ledger scan and verify his letter.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
This thread started out warning of counterfeit letters, but then altered letters was mentioned. I would think that a counterfeit letter would be a newly made letter, and altered would be an original letter that has been changed. Which one or are both involved?
Unfortunately, no one who has been in possession of the actual letters has actually sent the copies in to us, which is disappointing to say the least. I used counterfeit and altered interchangeably. Either way, not genuine in some way.
 

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I emphatically agree. The piece of paper is not what is valuable. What is valuable is the PROOF of the particular features of the gun. Colt owns that proof, and can supply a statement of what they've found for a fee. The best way to verify the features of a gun would be an instantaneous database lookup, i.e. a digitized Colt ledger. That way, a guy at a gun show can wave a piece of paper at me "proving" the Colt was shipped to Clyde Barrow, but I could look up the genuine ledger scan and verify his letter.
I would not anticipate a ledger to ever be accessible to the general public. For instance, we already run into significant issues with a certain W.B. Masterson shipped SAA. The serial number has become well known, and numerous altered guns have been made to match the specifications of that serial number. This is not the only gun, I am sure. Additionally, a number of "no record" SAA's are "coincidentally" Sheriff's Models, Engraved Guns, inscribed guns, etc. Access to this database would allow unscrupulous dealers and gunsmiths to hunt for special guns in the ledgers (or, no record guns) and alter them to specifications noted. I am 100% against any type of unfettered access such as this. What is to stop a counterfeiter to discovering a factory engraved or special order gun of some sort, and then matching the gun to the record?

At this time, we have decided that the best thing to do would be to forward questionable letters to me, as described in my original post, to be confirmed as genuine. This can be done by myself in a matter of moments.

Additionally, and I have tried to stress this as much as possible, there are very few fakes, and all I wanted was to let people know that if something doesn't look right, it may not be right, and to just double check before making a high dollar value purchase. I am only an email away.
 
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