Italian authorities bust car counterfeiting ring turning Pontiacs into Ferraris!

Shawn

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Published: Thursday, February 28, 2008 | 4:03 PM ET
Canadian Press: Colleen Barry, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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MILAN, Italy - Italian financial police have busted a ring of counterfeiters who built fake Ferraris and sold them for as little as $30,000 a car, officials said Thursday.

Authorities have confiscated 14 fake Ferrari Modena 360s - seven sold and seven under construction - in an operation reaching from Palermo to Milan, said Guido Geremia, head of the Palermo unit that led the investigation.


Financial police officers posing next to a confiscated fake Ferrari car at an unknown location.

Investigators do not know how many of the cars have been sold in the past, but Geremia said the buyers knew the cars were fakes and were clearly seeking to impress unknowing neighbours with the sleek-bodied speed machines.

"That is the only reason," he said.

Eight people are under investigation, authorities said. The ring used mostly Pontiacs as their base, but also Mercedes and Toyotas, building a copy of a Ferrari body over the original car's engine.

"It was done very well - they were very skilled," Geremia said.

The financial police, who lead Italy's fight against the counterfeiters who cash in on the peninsula's reputation for quality in everything from handbags to prosciutto, launched the Ferrari investigation six months ago. Geremia said they were helped by Internet sites where the cars were offered up for sale.

The 360 Modena went out of production in 2004, and was priced at the time at $215,000, said Ferrari spokeswoman Mariella Mengozzi. The current suggested retail price by Italy's consumer auto magazine for a 2004 model is around $150,000.

Mengozzi said it is not the first time the Ferrari brand has been copied and that the automaker, which is owned by the Fiat Group, monitors websites for evidence of fakes.

"Ferrari is a product that maintains its value over time and of course we try to protect our clients who buy the real thing," Mengozzi said.
So we've all seen the shitty, carbage Fiero to Ferrari conversions, but didn't think any Ferrari enthusiasts who actually go to buy a genuine Ferrari could fall for it. Also, the CBC are surely car philistines given that's actually an F355 in the picture. :lol:
 

_HighVoltage_

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I was wondering where all the Fiero-s went, cause I wanted to buy one, but now I know :D
 

Blind_Io

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Were the cars badged, registered and VIN numbered as Ferraris? If not then all they are guilty of is building kit cars in poor taste. The buyers knew what they were buying so no one was defrauded.

It seems the most they can be hit with is unauthorized use of copyrighted designs (the body shape, assuming it's copyrighted; and the Ferrari badge).
 

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OK, something's not entirely clear...

Were they trying to push these cars as real Ferraris or were they just selling them as converted kit cars and advertising as such? If it's the latter, then this is just another load if IP BS.

EDIT: Blind got it in before me...
 

Shawn

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I'm pretty sure they were being sold as Ferraris. You think someone will slap down some $150,000 for a supposed Ferrari, without even looking at Carfax (or Euro equivalent) and seeing it listed as a Fiero?

Since they called it a counterfeiting ring I figured they were tricking (stupid) people into thinking they're Ferraris. If all they were doing was selling Fieros for a ridiculous sum then it really wouldn't be counterfeiting.

Edit: Yup, the dictionary defines conterfeiting as 'fraudulent imitation' so I guess they were being faked as 360s.

Were the cars badged, registered and VIN numbered as Ferraris? If not then all they are guilty of is building kit cars in poor taste. The buyers knew what they were buying so no one was defrauded.
 

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"Investigators do not know how many of the cars have been sold in the past, but Geremia said the buyers knew the cars were fakes and were clearly seeking to impress unknowing neighbours with the sleek-bodied speed machines."

"sold them for as little as $30,000 a car"
 

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The article states the cars were being sold for "as little as $30k" and that "buyers knew they were fake." They never mention anyone actually paying $150k for one of these, just that an original Ferrari 360 is worth that much.

Italy a few years back passed a law that was meant to stop counterfeit products but was so broad it actually caused some EXTREMELY rare Maserati's that were rebuilt using whats left of original parts to be called counterfeit and crushed. I have a feeling this may just be that law being applied.
 

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Hmm, I guess I stand corrected. But it's still illegal because they clearly look like Ferraris and are badged as such. It's illegal for the same reason fake Versace jeans are illegal.
 

Quadrax

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What i don't get is that there have been replica cars available forever. You can buy everything from a shelby cobra, lamborghini even GT40. Some of them were featured on Fifth Gear or Top Gear or possibly both.
 

thedguy

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What i don't get is that there have been replica cars available forever. You can buy everything from a shelby cobra, lamborghini even GT40. Some of them were featured on Fifth Gear or Top Gear or possibly both.
This only applies in Italy.
 

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"Investigators do not know how many of the cars have been sold in the past, but Geremia said the buyers knew the cars were fakes and were clearly seeking to impress unknowing neighbours with the sleek-bodied speed machines."

"sold them for as little as $30,000 a car"
That's what I feared: yet more corporate fascism coming to the developed world :thumbsdown:

Edit: Yup, the dictionary defines conterfeiting as 'fraudulent imitation' so I guess they were being faked as 360s.
Too bad the government's and corporate's (which amount to the same thing, these days) definition of counterfeiting is "ZOMGG!!!! DAY KOOPPYYEED MY DESINE@@!!!!!!11!1"

This company is guilty of nothing more than copyright (possibly) and trademark infringement, which in and of themselves, are BS.

Ferrari did not lose any sales because of this because no one who bought one of these kit cars for $30,000 would have paid $150,000 for the real thing. I would argue that Ferrari actually benefited from this so-called "counterfeiting".

Because of how accurate these kit car makers were, it would take a trained eye to tell it apart from the real thing. The vast majority of people would see these cars and think they're actually Ferraris. This can only boost Ferrari's image.

Yet, once again, the combination of corporate greed and political corruption as trumped common sense.
 
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avanti

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Italy has extremely strict counterfeit laws, you can get arrested and heavily fined (?1.000-?10.000) for buying for example a fake rolex on the street.
 

KaJuN

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I was wondering where all the Fiero-s went, cause I wanted to buy one, but now I know :D
There's a guy around here with a whole collection of them. There are at least a dozen Fieros around his house. I quite like those little cars, especially the 86 and on GT's.
 

GraemeH

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So it's trademark infringement, basically.

Weakest bust ever.

Italy has extremely strict counterfeit laws, you can get arrested and heavily fined (?1.000-?10.000) for buying for example a fake rolex on the street.
That's absolutely absurd :/
 

hansvonaxion

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Because of how accurate these kit car makers were, it would take a trained eye to tell it apart from the real thing. The vast majority of people would see these cars and think they're actually Ferraris. This can only boost Ferrari's image.
Wouldn't boost their image if the cars are slow as hell and sound like arse. Also, can't tell from that pic, but a lot of them don't quite look right either.
 

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I'd much rather have the ability to drive a car at high speeds to and from work like they do in Italy, then have the right to drive some poser Feirraro
 

hajj

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Also, the CBC are surely car philistines given that's actually an F355 in the picture. :lol:

Don't worry the Wall Street Journal did the same, it was in Thursday paper, I'll snap a picture if I still have it... So basically CBC are copycats themselves:mrgreen:
 
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