What lies behind the adventure... Forgery?

Inside the $100,000-plus counterfeiting scandal that collects PC games

Zoom / What lies behind the adventure… Forgery?

College of Orish Lawson

Prior to last month, Enrico Ricciardi was one of the most respected members of the niche community of classic PC game collectors, with an unparalleled collection of rare games to offer. brags regularly Around on me Social media. Today, he is an outcast in this community, the central figure in a widespread alleged counterfeiting scandal that has changed the way many collectors view their hobby.

At least seven PC game collectors have publicly or privately identified dozens of suspected fraud that they say Ricciardi traded or sold from 2015 until last month. Collectors estimate that these deals and sales include games that would have a total value of more than $100,000 on the open market if they were original.

Ricciardi told Ars that he, too, was a victim of unknowingly swiping the suspicious collectibles without checking them thoroughly enough. Regardless, compelling evidence of numerous frauds rampant in the world of rare computer games has shaken this community’s trust to the core.

“It’s like finding a double agent in an intelligence organization,” collector Dan Chesarick told Ars. “He knows the total value of classic games and what kind of damage fake copies can do.”

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The PC game collecting world has yet to attract the kind of staggering seven-dollar sales seen with some rare Nintendo games. However, a committed collecting community has grown around vintage PC titles, with some people paying thousands of dollars for sound discs, packaging, and computer game materials from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Game collector Stefan Räckel told Ars that toys that used to sell for tens of dollars now routinely go to “hundreds” on sites like eBay.

“PC game collecting is a niche, but it’s growing as console collectors finish their collections and look for the next frontier,” said Joel McCoy, founder of Facebook’s Big Box PC Game Collectors (BBPCGC). “A few games are as rare as the old computer games.”

“You kind of assume that all you get is a project.”

Computer game collector Stefan Räckel

Rackle said that members of the BBPCGC group are “friends in general,” and are happy to share their big discoveries and arrange deals or purchases with fellow members (McCoy explained to Ars that the group “has no responsibility for transactions between members,” though). Rackle said that trading in such a “fairly compatible kind of community” that “creates relationships with people” isn’t possible when buying from random eBay sellers. “It’s not just about money… you [sometimes] You get two people to agree to a deal, and no money is changed… You kind of assume that whatever you get is legitimate.”

Collectors tell Ars that this is an assumption they won’t do anymore. On May 30, the BBPCGC published a wide range of documents outlining evidence of fraud within the three-member groups, all linked to Ricciardi’s trade and sales. Ars also reviewed similar evidence recently published by Racle (which was accidentally investigating some of its items without knowledge of the broader BBPCGC investigation) and privately provided by other collectors, some of whom requested anonymity.

Speaking to Ars, McCoy explained that while all of these alleged forgeries came through Ricciardi, the BBPCGC cannot say with certainty that Ricciardi actually made them. McCoy said the group’s investigation focused exclusively on whether Ricciardi was “selling and trading counterfeit toys”.

“This has been proven and is reason enough to be expelled from the group,” McCoy said.

“I believe [Ricciardi] He should have been able to spot counterfeit products.”

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