Retro collector accused of selling counterfeits worth $100,000
The vintage computer game collecting scene was rocked by an unexpected scandal last week when a prominent community member, who was also a moderator of a major Facebook group, was accused of selling fake copies of classic games to people.
Enrico Ricciardi, who for years has been an active member of the community as a buyer, seller and source of advice, has been fired from Big Box PC Game Collectors after several members presented evidence they claim proves that many of the boxes, diskettes, and artifacts he sold to people were not what they appeared to be. .
The members of the group collected all their evidence and their accusations in public actsaying that after a member received a suspicious game – a supposed copy of Akalbeth 1979: The Realm of Deathwhich was developed by Richard Garriott before he got into Ultimate series and it’s one of the first RPGs ever produced – they started sticking with other titles sold by Ricciardi, finding that many of them were a bit off as well.
When comparing Ricciardi’s toys to original toys owned by other members, the group quickly found a number of inconsistencies with the previous one, such as hand-cut rather than shaped toy posters, marks on posters supposedly decades old that could only have been made with modern printers, and slight differences in things like fonts and logo placement. You can see these examples for yourself this way And the this way.
The most damning evidence presented, however, was that in many cases the records that had been sold by Ricciardi were blank, something many buyers only discovered now that they had been asked to check. If you’re thinking “why didn’t these guys check this out before?”, we’re talking about discs and tapes that are in some cases over 40 years old, which as members of Big Box PC explain Game Collectors, means doing this isn’t always the best idea:
These drives are 40 years old and the software is widely available online through emulators at this point. The point of getting these games isn’t to play them, but to collect them (people who collect baseball trading cards don’t trade them much either). “Testing” a 40-year-old disc can risk damaging the disc. Also, some collectors do not have access to the computers that originally ran these games.
With several members having now compared the games they received from Ricciardi to other legitimate copies, it has become clear that he has been selling these complex counterfeits for years (since at least 2015, according to their calculations), covering everything from the old Sierra and Origin games to “multiple copies of Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash, Akalabeth and Mystery House.”
Wildly, it is even believed that while most of Ricciardi’s counterfeits were sold directly to buyers, the group claims “there is at least one black box Ultimate 1 which we believe to be fakes that have been classified by WATA.
Ricciardi is believed to have been involved in “at least €100,000 in suspected counterfeit gaming item transactions”, which at the time of publication amounts to approximately $107,300. That’s…a lot of money, as you’d expect for games that are both so old and so big, though, as the band explains It’s unclear whether legal action is pending or if it will ever take place, as they say “those affected are choosing their best course of action and do not wish to discuss it publicly.”
If you’re a collector and it’s a bit intimidating, or you’re just an outside observer curious to know how it all works, The Big Box PC Game Collectors has an “Anti-Scammers Guide” which is fun to read.