Our latest press has everyone at Purse Forum very excited! Vlad had been working with Amanda Kwan from the Associated Press on a story about authenticating handbags online. The verdict on the place to go: Purse Forum. Around 1.35 million handbag addicts flock to our forum monthly to discuss handbags and so much more. But early on we saw the need to have areas designated for handbag authentication help. With the help of knowledgeable members and collectors, designated Authenticate This threads have been viewed and updated daily helping members deduce if a bag they are eying is real or fake. While no one guarantees their advice, these threads have ended up helping thousands of people from being scammed and helped thousands of people get a great deal.

We first noticed the story publish on MSNBC, but that was not the end of it. The story has been published nearly fifteen times, and even better, spoken about by two anchors on 13WHAM in Rochester, NY, a subsidiary of ABC News. A special thanks to Amanda Kwan from Associated Press for putting this story together and two all who have helped our forum become the best place on the web to help those who are unsure realize if the bag they are about to buy it authentic or fake.

Here is the list of where the story has been published so far: MSNBC, Boston Herald, ABC News, Seattle Times, AOL, Canadian Press, Nola.com, WRAL, Netscape, The Northwestern, Manufacturing.net, TMCnet.com, and Smart Brief.

If you see the story anywhere else (or in your local paper which it should also hit) please do let us know! Read the entire article below.

NEW YORK – It was the peeling hologram sticker in her new Fendi bag that made Chrys Reyna suspicious.

She wasn’t able to afford the black leather bag’s $1,100 retail price, so when she bought it on eBay for $415, she considered it a triumph in bargain shopping. It was only through a Web site designed to spot counterfeits that she realized she’d bought “a really high-quality five-star fake.”

In an increasingly troubled economy, shoppers who used to be able to afford luxury goods are turning to third-party retailers that promise big discounts. But these amazing savings aren’t always the real deal, and some consumers are using the Internet to police them.

Counterfeit products have cost the U.S. economy between $200 billion and $250 billion each year, according to recent estimates from the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and customs enforcement branch.

Major online auction sites such as eBay say they police their listings, but with millions of new auctions added each day, many buyers unknowingly spend hundreds on shoddy replicas.

“There’s no way we can have an authentication service for every category,” eBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said.

That’s where The Purse Forum, a popular online message board, wants to lend a hand. An offshoot of The Purse Blog, a handbag enthusiast site with the motto “Shallow Obsessing Strongly Encouraged,” the board encourages buyers to post photos of purchases they’d like to make.

“We realized early on that there was a lot of counterfeiting going around the eBay marketplace” and other online merchants, said Vlad Dusil, the blog’s 28-year-old co-founder. His site lets shoppers post the photos for critiques by other Forum members who may be more knowledgeable about a specific bag.

It was through The Purse Forum that Reyna found the truth about her Fendi bag. She reported the fraud to eBay after she and her fake Fendi seller were unable to settle independently, but the auction site was unable to recover Reyna’s money. EBay has refused to comment on Reyna’s claim, citing privacy agreements.

Reyna now suspects that her other eBay-purchased designer bags are also knockoffs. Altogether, she has spent $1,000.

“In a way, they’re the experts of those bags,” she said, describing the members of the discussion board as “a community that just really loves bags.”

How to spot a fake
Becoming a bag connoisseur takes work, and in some cases, a lot of cash. Rebecca Vanard, 22, is one of seven unpaid moderators for the Louis Vuitton discussions. She uses her own collection of 52 Louis Vuitton bags as references. Vanard began studying the brand’s bags in late 2004, when she noticed an increasing presence of the brand’s Multicolore bags.

“I wondered, ‘How come so many people had them when they were such expensive bags?’” she said.

Louis Vuitton bags are the most researched items on the forum, according to Dusil, who said he created the forum as a favor to his bag-loving fiancee and co-founder, Meaghan Mahoney.

The Vuitton discussion thread has been viewed nearly 1 million times, with 70,000 messages posted. Vanard, a psychology student, sees her posts there as a public service.

“I feel that it’s like a little community where we can all help each other out,” she said. Moderators answer within minutes of most queries and often defer to others for second and third opinions. Any member is allowed to authenticate, but “if you’re wrong on items, people will correct you,” Vanard said.

Juan Mata, 21, a grocery store department manager, spends up to three hours each day helping to confirm authenticity for other members, but said sellers have other ways to sell their fakes.

“Many fall victims of the bait-and-switch scam, where the seller posts pictures of a real bag in the auction, then sends them a fake bag instead,” explained Mata.

EBay said it removed 2.2 million listings of counterfeit items and suspended about 50,000 members in 2007 through its VeRO program, which reports listings of potential knockoffs to their respective designers.

Constance White, eBay’s style director, recommends researching items, checking sellers’ ratings before placing a bid, and asking sellers lots of questions.

“The best sellers are totally transparent,” White said. “If they’re unwilling to answer questions, it’s a red flag.”

Although she’s confident in the collective expertise of The Purse Forum, Reyna doesn’t buy her designer bags on auction sites anymore.

“I go to reputable retailers, like eLuxury, or the boutique itself,” she said. “You know, that way I know it’s real.”

  • I want a Birkin

    Well done! :smile:

  • http://www.MyUniqueGiftIdea.com Dee

    Congratulations! Your fantastic site deserves to me mentioned in the media.

  • Anilu Magloire

    Way to go, TPF!!! I am so glad I found you.

  • chloe.f.puff

    the cream always rises to the top

  • http://www.purseblog.com/ Megs

    Thanks everyone!!! We really have been thrilled about this story, it helps show the importance of a site like ours in the shopping world.

    We have a few other press mentions that I need to get up also!

  • cat

    Awesome!!!!!!!

  • Andee

    I am so proud of you all. I feel like TPF is home.

  • Balthus

    Great article & kudos on the press!

  • harleyNemma

    Congratulations to Megs & Vlad for creating such a great space on the web! This attention is well deserved! Bravo!

  • Toni

    I feel this site has become a second home for me. I spend many hours on the forum daily and have made very nice friends. I have been burned on Ebay once too and am so glad that I have become a member of this community. The information that I have learned regarding a specific bag’s authenticity is invaluable.
    Thanks TPF and congrats!! You deserve the recognition!!

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Megs

      That is what the forum has tried to help with time and time again. Being burned out of thousands of dollars is horrible, and I do hope that the forum has given some comfort to many and helped many save themselves from buying a counterfeit!

    • ofaj

      I know! Sometimes I don’t get any work done with this forum. I find myself reading most of the threads in my favorite subforums (Hermes and LV), sometimes even those that are more than a year old. I don’t know if it’s a good thing this site is not blocked in my office network. haha

  • Renee

    This is a great article and I just wanted to say thanks to all the TPF’ers who help authenticate bags – as someone who isn’t very knowledgeable it’s so nice to have someplace to come and ask questions and get opinions. What a wonderful thing – and what a wonderful community that has been created here! Thanks!

  • longchamp

    Great article. congrats!!!!

  • althea

    are there anyone that sells the fake purses and jewelry in your area? looking to buy some for some freinds and myself. we want the ones that look real but are not,in the brands coach, dooney,chanel and etc. any info would be helpful,someone told me a lady named rosie sold them from somerset but they did not know her last name.
    ——————–
    althea
    auto auctions>

  • http://www.gov-auctions.org rohndawson

    A lot’s happened in the past week: a Massive Government Bailout, Detroit’s $50 Billion Request, Major Monthly Job Losses, a Labor Union Soap Opera and much more. Things are getting rough out there.
    —————-
    rohn

    auto auctions

  • vincent

    I would like to carry purses or hand bags. A purse or handbag is often fashionably designed, and is used to hold items such as wallet, keys, tissues, makeup, a hairbrush, cellular device or personal.
    =====================================================================================
    Vincent
    [url=“http://www.gov-auctions.org”]Auto Auction[/url]

  • vincent

    I would like to carry purses or hand bags. A purse or handbag is often fashionably designed, and is used to hold items such as wallet, keys, tissues, makeup, a hairbrush, cellular device or personal.
    =====================================================================================
    Vincent
    [url=http://www.gov-auctions.org]Auto Auction[/url]

  • vincent

    I would like to carry purses or hand bags. A purse or handbag is often fashionably designed, and is used to hold items such as wallet, keys, tissues, makeup, a hairbrush, cellular device or personal.
    =====================================================================================
    Vincent
    Auto Auctions

  • Tammie

    I found a “Fendi” at Goodwill and am not sure how to tell if its “real” or a really good fake. . .,From all the markings, i’m thinking i am soooooo lucky. it has a serial number on the inside of the zipper pouch. . .

    I believe is a rather old bag, has handles and a shoulder strap, tan and brown stripes with “Fendi” in all caps (very small font) on the brown stripes – upright on a brown stripe, then six brown stripes with no lettering, then the lettering is upside down, six more “blank” stripes, then upright again, and staggered, not all in a line. . . all hardware has fendi and is metal. the metal tag inside on the zipper section has the circular double F’s, along with FENDI (the trademark sign) S.A.S. then underneath that it says “Roma Made in Italy” in all caps.

    Fendi experts, what else should i be looking for?

    thank you
    Tammie

  • jpn_lover

    here he is : jean-paul ney

  • stuffy

    Coach NO CO4U 1202, this is the number on a purse I am looking at, can anyone tell me if this would be authentic. Thank you