CGC Trading Cards Snares a Sneaky Dark Persian Counterfeit

Posted on 6/16/2021

A fraudster’s attempt to fake a Japanese Rocket Gang card is foiled by Psyduck and CGC Trading Cards’ experts.

CGC Trading Cards graders often encounter fake cards in submissions. From counterfeit 1st Edition Base Set Charizards to rare promos, there is no shortage of forgeries in the marketplace. However, a recently submitted counterfeit card stood out due to its quality and approximation of an error. The card appears to be a Dark Persian from the Japanese set Rocket Gang, released in November of 1997, but — similar to the Base Set Wartortle Evolution Box Error — the card features Psyduck in the Evolution Box instead of the correct Meowth!

Fronts of the counterfeit (left) and genuine (right) Dark Persians.
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Backs of the counterfeit (left) and genuine (right) Dark Persians.
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Close-ups of the Evolution boxes on the two cards.
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The photos above show that both cards were printed using offset printing, and they display the rosette patterns. However, the cards react differently under other lighting conditions.

The two cards under infrared light.
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Under infrared (IR) light, the cards look similar, but the fake has much darker shading on the art box and in the lower right corner of the card. The colorless energies are also darker in the counterfeit. It is also easier to see that the font of the text is different on the two cards.

The backs of the fake (left) and genuine (right) under spot fluorescent lighting.
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The inferiority of the fake becomes more apparent under spot fluorescent lighting. The back of the counterfeit is mottled looking and blurry, whereas the genuine is much sharper and the rays are straighter. Also, the white shine on the ball reacts differently on the two cards, and the red top of the Pokéball is much more fluorescent on the genuine example — the result of different inks used.

The offset printing method uses different plates that correspond to the primary colors on the card. In addition to the different types of ink used to create the counterfeit card, the screen angles of the cyan, magenta and yellow plates are shifted compared to the genuine example.

Fake card (left) and genuine (right) with differing plate angles.
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In the photos above, the screen angles of the different colors have been marked with red, blue and yellow lines. The yellow plate is very close to the genuine example, but the screen angles of the red and blue plates are very different. These screen angles can sometimes change between print runs, but it is still interesting that they do not correctly align.

One thing that does not normally change is the chemical makeup of the cards themselves and the ink printed on them.

Spectral Analysis of the counterfeit (red line) and a genuine example (green line).
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As the spectrum above shows, there are numerous differences in the elemental makeup of the cards. The two largest differences are the amount of Chlorine (Cl) and Zinc (Zn). The genuine example has 99 times more Chlorine in the card stock, and the counterfeit has 13 times as much zinc. These kinds of massive discrepancies would not be seen between two genuine cards. The fake also has three times less Titanium (Ti), two times less Iron (Fe), and 1.4 times less Calcium (Ca).

Why anyone would go through the trouble of creating this particular counterfeit Dark Persian is anyone’s guess. However, the major differences in the way in which the cards’ inks and papers react under different lighting show that the fake does not match the genuine example. The differing plate positions and radically different chemical makeup only further prove that the card is a forgery and not an Evolution Box error. At least for now, Persian does not evolve from Psyduck.

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