The Indicator from Planet Money - The Great Lego Scam

Counterfeit Lego kits, made illegally in China, are giving collectors a headache.

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Content Keywords: toy shopping Star Wars Lego Lego Tom Greco spaceship
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NPR

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there's a massive scam going on but this cam isn't about the coronavirus or vaccines. It's it's about Lego Tom Greco lived in Dayton, Ohio and he got scammed is 3 kids 7 11 and 16 and they all love Lego which is how he got into trouble. He's been looking for a Lego X Wing resistance fighter for his son. That's the spaceship that Luke Skywalker and artoo-detoo fly and Star Wars and so perusing Facebook one day I saw an ad for it for what seemed to be a low but maybe not a too low of a price and I thought oh good. Let's grab that real quick at the Timex wings were going for about 60 or $70 for the addy clicked on Facebook listed it for a lot. Less. The X-Wing was half price just thirty bucks. But when the Box arrived in the mail and Tom opened it, he found out that this great price it came with a big catch.

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The pieces weren't the same quality. They were they were much more flimsy and they didn't have the same Tower and says they didn't go together quite as nicely as regular Legos the helmets for some of the mini figures weren't dual motor molded with the transparent pieces in solid pieces. They were just all solid and painted over yellow where they were supposed to be transparent that a counterfeit he admits he may not have paid as much attention to the address you should have but you know, like it was his great deal and he trusted that an ad online would just be legit like the company that makes like, oh it's based in Denmark did more than five and a half billion dollars in sales last year Lego is a huge business, but this is not just a toy Lego is in Investments. The company retires, it skips after wild stops making them. So if you buy and hold something really popular and the price goes up you could make a lot of money.

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I'm Sally herships and I'm Stacey Vanek Smith. This is the indicator from Planet Money on their own Legos or just these little plastic bricks. You can see why it would be tempting to make counterfeit sound like how to make a fake airpod or an Apple watch something. In fact, it is so easy. And so tempting to make fake Legos that there is an entire company in China that turns out tens of millions of dollars a year worth of make Legos, but that also means collectors and investors have to be really careful when they buy Legos because nobody wants to do business with you if you are selling fake good. So today on the show, we take a look at the city underworld of Legos The Great Lego scam.

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Support for this podcast in the following message come from Google from updating their hours to adding takeout and delivery information small businesses around the country are using free Google tools to adapt learn how to add google.com small business the biggest and most notorious of these counterfeiters is a Chinese brand called leopon. It operates completely openly. I mean, you can visit the company's website weapon world.com and you will see that its logo and Legos logo are almost identical both use these puffy white letters against a bright red background. So if you're shopping online and maybe in a little bit of a rush, you may not notice that what you're buying is lepid not like oh Lego has do Chinese companies, like weapon numerous times for violating its trademark or copyright and intellectual property laws less your Chinese sweet inch engine rated a toy maker and sees 30 million dollars worth of counterfeit Legos these knock-offs often sell for a third of the price of the real thing.

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But if you end up buying a knockoff, you don't just risk getting a flimsy or product you could also end up costing yourself money down the line. If you were planning to resell your Legos later on the Lego Community is enormous. There are whole websites like brick seeker.com, Bricklink and Facebook groups like Star Wars Lego collectors USA. There are forums and online marketplaces thousands and thousands of post all in different languages. And if you buy fakes even accidentally and try to resell them, you could get yourself banned to understand how the Lego scams work. I turn to another superfan Steve Elliott's he is 38 and lives in Albany, Wisconsin. If someone posts like a big $700 Lego set people will zoom in and look to see if they can see the Lego stamp on the top of a brick which is called the stud. And if they don't see it, they'll accuse them of it being a knockoff products dollar Lego set.

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Lego investors have a really good reason to be so uptight about this in 2017. Something unprecedented happened in the Lego aftermarket the secondary Market the prices of big sets those giant boxes with like thousands of Lego pieces. They started dropping and this is according to brickpicker one of those Lego pricing and investment guide unprecedented carries a clip from the brickpicker YouTube channel is the Lego Millennium Falcon and take a look at the Lego Millennium Falcon graph. When the Lego Millennium Falcon was first released over a decade ago. It was the most expensive Lego set ever $499.99 and then the price shot up almost $5,000 but a couple years ago, it dropped by more than 30% in less than a year.

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Britt baker said there are a few reasons for this price drop and the seemingly Blue Chip investment in the Millennium Falcon going south at the first was an oversupply in the market also Lego released in updated version of assets. So, you know, it was just less exclusive and then also all these fake Millennium Falcon started cropping up all over the internet from places like leopon, but it's not just investors who are angry about this or brick Pickers individual designers who come up with their own language signs like for a repair shop or a train or allowed to sell instruction manuals, and they said that the counterfeiters are stealing their designs to which really kind of sucks. A lot of the Lego factory were pretty upset about this because according to Lego if the company manufactures Your Design ubiq 1% of the net sales, so be careful out there the next time you are toy shopping make sure you are getting

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Real thing.

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This episode of the indicator was produced by Kiara Powell and Doris Raffi on back checked by Brittany Cronin edited by Patty Hirsch, and the indicator is the production of NPR.

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