I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone started producing fake reflective Ontario plates. It seems that as time goes on, there are more and more pitfalls in this hobby of mine. Here’s a brand new one, first spotted on eBay by longtime ALPCA collector and good guy William Loftus.
This is a fake red Ontario diplomat plate, as produced in Russia by a well-equipped fake plate manufacturer, and sold on eBay by the seller jbeerd. I’m not pulling any punches here, or hiding the seller’s identity behind pseudonyms. This ebayer, jbeerd, is selling counterfeit license plates that masquerade as US diplomat plates, Canadian diplomat plates, and even Canadian military plates. I can’t imagine he'll serve me with a defamation lawsuit—because his identity, once known, would be of great interest to the federal governments of the US and Canada, not to mention INTERPOL.
My goal with this post is not to “right” this unscrupulous seller. He has clearly invested some time and money into the manufacture of his counterfeit plates, and there is clearly profit to be made. Counterfeiting was a nearly half-trillion-dollar industry in 2016, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Fake Gucci watches, fake Coach purses, fake iPhones... they're out there. Breaking the law in the name of profit is nothing new, and nothing I write here will change the seller’s mind.
My goal with this post is also not to debate whether the production of counterfeit government-issued ID plates is tantamount to committing or being an accessory to fraud—or maybe infringing on the copyrights of registered trademarks (I’ll leave it to government lawyers to dig into those semantics).
I simply want to document the existence of this type of fake Ontario plate from Russia. It did sell, for 75 US dollars. That's a lot of rubles, but not a lot of scruples. Fakes are damaging to this hobby by eroding the legitimacy of unusual finds by inexperienced collectors. It could be that a new collector shows up with a fake diplomatic plate at the Grimsby swap meet and thinks it’s gold, and he won't believe us when we break the news to him. It’s happened before that Billy-Joe Newbie has shown up at one of our meets with a stack of quarterly plates. He talks to one of us, and is told that his stack of plates is worth only $20. So he dismisses that opinion and talks to another one of us, and is told that it’s worth just $20. The process repeats until he figures we’re all colluding and trying to play him for a sucker, and he leaves with his $20 of plates, determined to sell them for their “real” value. If this scenario plays out with someone who thinks their fake Ontario diplomat is real, perhaps I can point to this previously-written post as evidence.
Here's a side-by-side comparison between a real Ontario diplomatic plate (101-CDJ) and the Russian fake (558-CDL):
I've identified seven key clues to identifying this fake:
The dies used to punch the numbers are too short, and they’re also too square. The digits 5 and 8 should have perfectly round semicircular strokes on their bottom sides.
The crown used is an approximation of the real thing. It is difficult to see the crown on the fake plate due to the glare in the image, but the top arches of the crown is “cornered” in the style of the 1968-72 Ontario crowns.
The “Yours to Discover” slogan typeface is not bold enough.
I would presume that there is no hologram embedded in the background sheet; if there is one, it would almost certainly not be the authentic Ontario hologram bearing either a trillium or a lot number.
Ontario bolt holes are slightly more oblong than these. I’m going by a picture only, but I would estimate that the real plates have bolt holes that are 1/8 of an inch longer than the ones shown on the fake.
The bottom bolt holes are drilled too far away from the bottom edge. They should be the same distance away as the top holes are from the top edge.
The rear side of the fake has an almost painted look to it, as if it was coated in a semi-gloss gray. Actual Ontario plates are just glossy, unfinished aluminum.
Watch the eBay ID, folks… jbeerd. Study the work and steer clear.