Whenever you hear about counterfeit merchandise, you almost always think about China. It's not completely undeserved -- the country does have a history of churning out tons of fake DVDs, electronics, designer clothing and everything else you can and can't imagine.
Why? Because they're really, really good at it. The amount of work and creativity the Chinese underworld puts into their fakes is so damn impressive that you have to wonder why they'd ever need to steal other people's ideas. These are the people who have faked ...
#5. Entire Companies
When Chinese counterfeiters decide to set up a series of knockoff store chains, they don't mess around trying to be subtle. Check out this strangely familiar retailer in Kunming, China:
Everything at this Apple Store is 30 percent cheaper than the one down the street because capitalism.
They have the Apple logo, the displays and even blue-T-shirt-clad staff members sporting that classic Apple smug grin.
Ha, that awkward 45-degree angle. Classic.
The illusion was so perfect that even the employees thought the place was legit. Let's say that again: Even though it's a complete knockoff, all the employees completely believed they were working for Apple.
Chinese officials have so far found a total of 22 fake Apple stores operating across the country. Hell, at least when somebody opened a chain of fake Ikea stores, they had the courtesy to reverse the color scheme:
The food in their cafe was 40 percent lead, making it markedly more delicious than the real thing.
But both of those pale in comparison with the scope of the counterfeiting operation that targeted the Japanese electronics giant NEC.
In 2004, NEC got word that some counterfeit computer products with their logo on them were coming out of China. Big surprise, right? But when they had someone investigate it further, instead of a single rogue factory they discovered a massive, multinational operation counterfeiting ... well, all of NEC.
Which one do we sue? Which one do we sue?
Someone in China actually created an entire parallel NEC enterprise with business cards, R&D commissions, detailed production plans and even warranties all bearing the NEC mark.
This fake NEC also had a network of over 50(!) factories across China and Taiwan producing existing NEC goods and totally new products like MP3 players and entertainment systems ... for which the evil-twin NEC was receiving "royalties." Some of their products were even found in stores of major retailers.
But here's the craziest part: The real NEC guys admitted that those "original fakes" were actually of a pretty good quality, which was probably like being told that some guy stole your identity and then used it to win the Biggest Penis World Championship.
#4. Prehistoric Fossils
Dinosaur bones are valuable, for obvious reasons -- besides being a finite resource, they're also difficult to find, being buried deep underground and all. What if you could simply skip the entire "discover it and clean it off and assemble it together" process that makes archaeology so tedious and skip right to the "make money from tourists" part? Leave it to industrious Chinese counterfeiters to find a way.
In the 1970s, the Chinese fossil market exploded, with dino-bits being dug up and sold all over the country. When the supply dried up, someone suggested, "Why don't we just make some more?"
Really, the difference between a million years and 10 minutes is where you put the decimal point.
And thus, today China is one of the biggest suppliers of fake fossils on the planet. Why bother? Well, here's a fake rat fossil made from a calcified fish. It sold on eBay for over $3,000:
We don't even buy HDMI cables from Chinese retailers.
They can be made in a number of ways, including building skeletons out of chicken/frog bones or plaster and rock, to more authentic fakes made by mixing existing fossils into completely new animals, and sometimes even crushing them into a paste and sculpting new bones. Examples range from fake pterosaur fossils ...
Scientists speculate he was delicious with hoisin sauce.
... to fake saber-tooth tiger heads made from modified dog skulls:
The problem is so persistent that some Chinese scientists are claiming that judging modern fossil collections on their authenticity is just "unrealistic." We wonder if the same thing will eventually happen for ...
#3. IDs for Underage Kids
There's been a lot of talk lately about China taking away American jobs, but the one profession we've always assumed would forever stay within U.S. borders is the proud tradition of making fake IDs for underage kids wanting to get shitfaced. That is no longer the case.
Because you don't need an ID for meth.
Since 2010, police have been finding insanely high-quality fake driver's licenses and other IDs on underage drinkers all across the country. The fakes were so sophisticated, in fact, that they could fool not only bouncers and law enforcement officers, but also some bar-code readers. And they all originated from one company in Nanjing, China.
It works like this: You email the company your physical description, your picture and other information you want on the ID. Then you pay them $300 (or $75 if you order more than 20). Finally, you receive your ID in the mail, hidden in the sole of cheap-ass shoes.
Which will prevent you from getting into most clubs, no matter how many ID cards you throw at people.
Fortunately, most of the fake IDs can be identified immediately with advanced scanning, so they don't really pose a problem to national security or anything. Still, that doesn't mean they have no negative consequences; studies have shown that underage people are more prone to binge drinking than legal adults, which can often have lethal results. And what about Steve from Dorm B?! How is he supposed to pay for that new laminating machine and his WoW subscription with China taking away all of his business?
"Well, I guess it's back to the gold farmi -- awww, damn it."
But before you breathe too much of a sigh of relief about national security, there's the issue of ...