I've never knowingly purchased counterfeit cards. (Well, except once, but that's what I'm here to tell you about.) The purchase of counterfeit cards only supports that market, giving the plagerists reason to continue and money to congratulate them for their efforts. By all means, I condemn the practice of ripping off all the hard work that Wizards and company puts into creating and marketing Pokémon cards, and producing cheaper, slipshod copies of them, while attempting to pass them off for the real thing.
In my recent trip to the Orient I traveled to Japan and Hong Kong. I was able to get loads of shopping done (just about depleted all my savings, but hey, when will I ever go to Asia again?), in department stores in Tokyo and marketplaces around Kowloon and on Hong Kong island itself. Among the stuff I brought back were novelty items (mugs, T-shirts, figurines, a personalized chop with my Chinese name), and loads of anime stuff (DVDs, CDs, Miyazaki film comics, manga).
Yet, since I never made it to the Tokyo Pokémon Center (I'm still rather miffed about that), I was on the lookout for anything Pokémon. In a department store in Hong Kong I saw the 3 Advanced Starter Decks, but they were for 15 bucks a pop and I was getting somewhat low on money so I passed. (I probably should have splurged, though, since they were in legit packaging and I haven't found those cards online or anywhere else, but I digress.)
In one of the marketplaces in Hong Kong, I saw a non-professional plastic pouch with Pokémon written on the top in Sharpie permanent marker, this card visable in front of a mult-card stack:
Now, that cracked me up. The card has obviously been doctored, though anyone who knows anything about Pokémon can tell right away that the card was no good. I mean, these guys had no clue what they were doing. I found it so hilarious I decided to make an exception and purchase these fake cards. (I mean, this isn't even legitimately counterfeit because there's no way under heaven they could pass these off for real. They're liike counterfeit counterfeit cards.)
At the checkout, I also saw Neo Destiny, Expedition, and Legendary Collection booster packs. Perhaps to make up for the fact that I didn't get to go to the Pokémon Center while in Tokyo, I hurriedly purchased 4 Expedition boosters, 2 Neo Destiny boosters, and a Legendary Collection booster, as I didn't have any cards from those sets at the time and they were at a really good price.
There wasn't a glimmer of suspicion in my mind that those cards were not legit.
Previously, I had only encountered counterfeit singles. (Singles are especially easy to tell legitimacy through blurriness, transparency, pixelation, and color distortion, and as a result are easily avoided.) It didn't occur to me that counterfeit cards could come in innocent packaging. (Of course, now that I know they are fake, I can recognize the signs that would have been clear on the packaging had I taken a closer look.)
I'll admit part of the problem was that I had never opened any boosters of those series before. (Nay, I had never even seen the boosters in person before.) However, all was clear when I opened the boosters and say what was inside.
LEGENDARY COLLECTION: [scan]
These cards were the worst. Two of them weren't even real cards, though they'd been "fixed" to look like they were from the Legendary Collection, expansion, card number, etc. Surprisingly enough, the color balance on the Fire and Fighting cards was so good, if the edges weren't rough and the card wasn't see-through I would have thought they were legit. The holo was a small, circle pattern.
total yield: 4 commons: "Yorunozuku" (doctored Rocket Diglett), Psyduck (rocket), Rhyhorn, Sandshrew. 4 uncommons: Growlithe, Kabuto, Sandslash, Cinnabar City Gym (holo). 3 rare: "Magukarugo" (doctored Snorlax), Gyarados (non-holo), Articuno (reverse-holo).
NEO DESTINY BOOSTERS: [scan]
Each card was blurry with terrible color balance on the front and back. (The cards look like they were printed with a cheap printer at 144 DPI.) The edges of the card were obviously punch-out with rough edges. The rarity balances were way off, but this time each card was actually from the correct expansion set. When the cards are stacked, the edges look gray and dingy like the cards were heavily handled out of sleeves. The holo cards had weird, rose-patterened foil.
total yield: 10 commons: three Larvitar (1 of them was holo!), Ledyba, Light Sunflora, Phanpy, Pineco, Unown T, two Unown S. 4 uncommons: Heracross, Houndour, Light Venomoth, Light Wigglytuff. 8 rare: Dark Donphan (holo), Dark Slowking, two Light Piloswine, Unown W, two Unown X, Thought Wave Machine.
NOTE: the Neo Destiny cards and the Legendary Collection cards were printed at the same plant because the edge of each card has a notch one centimeter left of the bottom-right corner and one centimeter right from the top-left corner.
All in all, these were the best counterfeit cards, except for blatant color problems. The holofoil cards were believeable except that the sparkles were American-type not Japanese-type. There were 11 cards in each pack, 1 holo and a few commons or whatever.
total yield: 17 commons: Bulbasaur, Caterpie, two Charmander (both A-10-#), Chikorita (A-06-#), Corsola, two Cyndaquil (one A-13-#, one A-14-#), Diglett, Dratini, Ekans, Hoppip, two Goldeen, Larvitar, Machop. 23 uncommons: Dragonair, two Electabuzz, two Flaaffy, two Graveler, Haunter, Hitmonlee, Jynx, Kadabra, Machoke, two Magmar, two Metapod, two Pidgeotto, two Poliwhirl, two Pupitar, Wartortle. 4 rare: Raichu (holo), Feraligatr (holo), Machamp (holo), Ampharos (holo).
BACK TO THE PACKAGE THAT STARTED IT ALL
Having opened the package I knew from the first to be counterfeit, I discovered that the package held 50 cards, all but two were ripped off Jungle cards (the other two were from Rocket), and that the cards themselves were stickers. Har har har. (Here are my favorite ones: [page1] [page2])
Pokémon TCG Encyclopedia