Hunters and Hunting Community being Conned.
Over the last few years I have seen an increase in technology in regards to hunting equipment, ok obviously some of what comes out works and some does not, and the price for new tech to help hunters has soared.
Shooting and hunting products sales are a very lucrative business and the demand is very high and fashionable at the moment. So it is not surprising the con men have caught on to the fact. Along with the increase of “tech” and the rise in demand there has been and influx of counterfeit and fake gear.
From high end branded rifle scopes to clothing there seems to be no end of items that the fraudsters are trying to punt to unsuspecting hunters and outdoors people, many new to the sport and the community.
Cross-hairs on the Money
Unsurprisingly the fraudsters are aiming at the items that cost the most in our community and that is optics. Every hunter knows that good glass is worth it’s weight in gold. Being able to see what your wanting to hunt and what your shooting at is what gives us the edge when performing our pursuits and it is not just hunters that rely on good optics to follow a pass time that they love, the community includes bird watchers, conservationists, ramblers and maritime enthusiasts but the list goes on.
High end optics can be anything from £50 to £1000 and as you can imagine can be a big part of your kit. Often looked at as a once or twice in a lifetime purchase. This is what the fraudsters rely on, buying a high end brand name as many are advised to do means that it is a long time before the fraudsters are found out and they can get away with what they have done.
Although there is hundred of items that are copied and sold off pretending to be something they are not, for now I am focusing on rifle scopes. Mainly due to the vast range and specs that are available and the price they demand.
Rifle scopes price wise are usually split up into a three or four categories,
Low end air rifle and bow scopes :- usually priced between £50 and £100, these scopes are great for very low calibre rifles such as air rifles for plinking and garden quarries, recreational target practice. They do not demand an awful lot of money and the technology is very basic and just do what it needs to do.
Medium priced target and hunting scopes :- priced between £100 and £500, probably the largest part of the market and where some of the best fixed magnification stalking scopes are along with medium ranged and amateur competition scopes. Enhanced technology allowing good magnification and affordable costs for the average hunter and amateur target shooters.
Top end Professional hunting and competition scopes :- priced between £500 and £2000. these scopes demand a very high price. Professionals in both field and competition would use these scopes. genuinely harder to fake as the technology is very high with crystal clear glass and low light capabilities giving the user that extra edge on nature whether it high flawless magnification or that extra hours of light for hunting.
Professional long range Competition scopes :- can be priced up and above £6000 depending on the manufacturer.
As you can imagine the category that is targeted the most by the con men is the medium priced scope market. The reason for this is this is where the price has the biggest variant depending on the brand and it is also the easiest to fake. Fraudsters are using scopes that would normally demand a price of around £50 and selling them for around £200 to £300 by just putting “fake” branding on them passing it off as something else.
So what’s Out There?
Some of the brands targeted are companies such as Zeiss, Leupold, BSA and MTC. Brands that every shooter knows and in many cases trust.
The products from these companies that are passed off are usually their most popular middle ranged products, for instance:-
Zeiss – Conquest and Diavari.
Leupold – V series.
BSA – Sweet 22 and 17 series.
MTC – Mamba and Viper series.
There worst part about it is very hard to tell if these are fake or not until you start questioning seriel numbers and warranties.
Not The Real Thing
Importance of buying The Real Thing
Some people will ask what the problem is buying a scope that is a 3rd of the price of the real thing if it does what it says on the time?
Well part from the fact your not buying what you are paying for and you are being lied to and it is illegal, there is other factors that come in to play here.
Firstly your consumer rights are affected, many high end companies offer great warranty service and in fact people like Zeiss, Swarovski etc. offer some of the best warranty services out there, sometimes offering up to 25 years transferable warranty with their products which means that when you sell the item privately the remainder of that warranty is also passed on with the sale. This is very useful for everyone involved and works very well.
Secondly, If you have your rifles and optics etc insured like many people have whether it is under your home contents or individual insurance fake items are not covered. Many people do not find this out until they provide the insurance company with serial numbers to evaluate a claim.
Finally if you sell the item on claiming it to be the real thing then it is found out it is not then you can find yourself in trouble and not the fraudsters that originally sold it to you.
So it is very important that you know you are buying the real thing.
How to Spot the Fakes?
Like everything it is sometimes very easy to spot what is real and fake and for legal reasons I cannot mention where these are available online but it is usual auction sites and Chinese wholesaler sites.
However it is sometimes very very hard to tell what is real and what is not, specially with items that are genuinely manufactured in the same country as the real ones are. Some of the hardest ones to spot are MTC and Leupold.
Things to look out for on the harder to spot ones.
Packaging, the packaging in all fakes are usually inferior to the real thing and this is usually a great indicator. Usually on the packaging there is spelling mistakes and slight difference in logo design.
Description in the advertising, when buying online look for somethings that you think is just too good to be true, such as, magnification. Always look at the manufacturers page and check if the item described actually comes with those specs.
Paperwork, all scopes come with a letter of warranty and authentication if you have bought new. You really need to check this over for spelling mistakes etc.
Some of the easier ones to spot are the Zeiss ones. Most of the ones that are sold on the black market have characteristics of cheaper brands such as front parallax adjustment and low quality turrets much of which you will not find on the real thing.
How to find out If your Scope is a Fake?
Do your research and contact the manufacturer to ask them to check the serial number. All the main brands have a database of every serial number they have ever produced and can access that within minutes, sometimes all it takes is a email and they will tell you everything you need to know about that product. To be honest this is the best way and the only real way to find out for sure.
A Real Zeiss Conquest
What to do If You find out Your product is a Fake?
To be honest there is not a hell of a lot you can do, on first instance though I would contact the person you purchased it from and demand your money back and in failing that contact Trading Standards, even if you get your money back it is often useful to notify Trading Standards any way. Disputes are long drawn out processes and might never get resolved and truly that is the honesty of the matter.
What are Companies doing About It?
A Spokes Person for Zeiss said,
“ZEISS is unfortunately aware of the problem regarding counterfeit products and take legal action each and every time we find one. ZEISS would always recommend purchasing a product from one of our authorised dealers throughout the UK, in order to guarantee its authenticity.”
They also advice to use one of their reputable dealers which can be found on the following link.
but the other companies I contacted have failed to reply
Most of the Onus is on the buyer to make sure what they are buying is the real thing and it is hard to sort out after you have purchased the item and unfortunately many do not find out until it is way to late .
So be careful what you buy I guess is the best advice that can be given.