This Fake LeBron James 2003-04 Topps Rookie Card Is Everywhere

Let me be clear. This is not the only counterfeit/unauthorized reprint of a LeBron James 2003-04 Topps #221 rookie card. Doing a quick search on eBay will result in countless examples. But the card I’m referring to in this post seems to be the one that surfaces the most often. When a player becomes as popular as King James its common for these types of cards to popup.

You can clearly see the coloring on the counterfeit/unauthorized reprint is much darker. And it just isn’t certain areas either. Everything on it is darker when compared to the authentic card. Both the front and back.

Inspecting the front you’ll notice that the font isn’t quite correct. It looks a bit thinner. Within the nameplate “LeBRON JAMES” sits lower too. On the authentic example there is some space between his name and the bottom of the nameplate.

In my opinion the biggest signs that the card is a counterfeit/unauthorized reprint can be found on the back. Overall the counterfeit/unauthorized reprint has a grainy tone to it. This specifically can be seen on the reverse side in the grey areas. On authentic examples these grey areas are smooth.

Two distinct white marks are a trademark red flag to this specific counterfeit/unauthorized reprint. Both are located on the back. One can be found above and slightly to the left of the Cavaliers logo. The other is directly beneath the letter “L” in “SCHOOL”.

Another area to look at is the foil used on the front. With authentic examples this foil shines and reflects light. Counterfeit/unauthorized reprints may look as if they have foil in the picture, but most will not reflect light like the authentic ones do. That’s because its not actual foil. Its just a scan of the real foil. This can be difficult to determine just by looking at a picture online. Having the card in-hand would make it much easier.

Counterfeit/unauthorized reprint front

Counterfeit/unauthorized reprint back

Authentic front

Authentic back

People use the word “reprint” or the letters “RP” on their listings in an attempt to fool you into thinking that specific card came from a manufacturer like Topps. Places like eBay don’t know how or just don’t care enough to learn how to distinguish between the two. The people making these homemade cards are fully aware that passing them off as the real thing could come back to haunt them. Calling them reprints might not bring in the same amount of money, but it still allows them to move their hoard of counterfeits. Its a horribly abused wording loophole.

I’ve seen a lot of people get taken advantage of with this counterfeit/unauthorized reprint. There are a bunch more like it floating around. Many even share some of the same characteristics. When you have headline after headline advertising the latest million dollar card sale it doesn’t take much for people to blindly jump in and starting buying cards they know very little about. Buy smart. Do some research before pulling the trigger.

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