Light test and identifying fake cards.

  • #1
    Can anyone explain what to look for when doing the light test to check if cards are counterfeit? Also, Any other strategies to detect counterfeits. Thanks

    Edit: after learning quite a bit about counterfeit detection, and having some good equipment at work to detect fakes I am thinking of posting a thread with detailed instructions about identifying foil and non foil fakes.

    ***Mods, if this is breaking any rules please delete the following: --> If anyone has some fake cards to lend(I'll only borrow them for scans and photos, then ship them back) let me know. **I am not trying to trade sell or buy counterfeit cards since that is definitely against the rules, I only want photos and scans to educate myself and others** I would like to put a really detailed guide together, since there isn't a whole lot out there on the subject. And hopefully I can learn some more myself since I plan to buy more power in the future.
    Last edited by Galgenstrick: 11/7/2010 11:56:48 AM
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  • #2
    Get a very bright bulb, and hold the card between your eye and that bulb. If you can see through the card, it's fake (Magic cards have a special film inside them to prevent light from passing through).
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  • #3
    Quote from Sinfire Titan
    Get a very bright bulb, and hold the card between your eye and that bulb. If you can see through the card, it's fake (Magic cards have a special film inside them to prevent light from passing through).


    Interesting, I have tried several cards including commons from many different sets, and each one passes at least some light through. I am testing a Mox Sapphire with the light test, it passes the same amount of light through the other 2 unlimited cards I have, but the "texture" of the light through the sapphire is slightly more marbled. I only have 2 other unlimited artifacts, so I am not sure if this means it is fake, or just a variance in the printing among these 3 cards. You can also see the blue film inside the card when looking at the edge under magnification.

    Is it possible for someone to make a fake card on magic the gathering card stock? If so, how can you detect it?
    Last edited by Galgenstrick: 11/4/2010 10:08:23 PM
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  • #4
    Check out this page http://apathyhouse.com/fake/page331.php they have a pic of a real card next t a fake being light tested (info on other tests too)
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  • #5
    Quote from Galgenstrick
    Is it possible for someone to make a fake card on magic the gathering card stock? If so, how can you detect it?


    You misunderstood. Paper will allow some light through, but Magic cards won't become so translucent that you can read the text printed on the other side of the card easily. You'd be able to see the text's location, but actually reading it would be hard on your eyes.

    From the above link:

    Leeched image removed.

    Left is real, right is fake. You can practically read the text on the right one.
    Last edited by extremeicon: 11/5/2010 10:02:24 AM
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  • #6
    Quote from Sinfire Titan


    You misunderstood. Paper will allow some light through, but Magic cards won't become so translucent that you can read the text printed on the other side of the card easily. You'd be able to see the text's location, but actually reading it would be hard on your eyes.




    Got it, But what if both are equally hard to read the text behind it (equal amount of light shining through), but one has a different "marbled texture" than the other. I can tell that both have this blue layer inside the card, but they don't look the same.
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  • #7
    Quote from Galgenstrick
    Got it, But what if both are equally hard to read the text behind it (equal amount of light shining through), but one has a different "marbled texture" than the other. I can tell that both have this blue layer inside the card, but they don't look the same.


    If it's Pre-Nemesis, odds are its a printing difference. Alpha through 4th was notorious for this. From Urza's Block onward, almost all cards will be identical in texture unless foil.

    If the light text fails, try the Water test or Bend Test.
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  • #8
    Got it, But what if both are equally hard to read the text behind it (equal amount of light shining through), but one has a different "marbled texture" than the other. I can tell that both have this blue layer inside the card, but they don't look the same.


    Do a bend test (bend the card so that top nearly touches the bottom).

    Fakes crease in the middle very easily. MtG cards, not so easily.

    Of course, some people would refuse to do a bend test on a P9.

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  • #9
    This should help. Here is a photo. The card in question is the one to the left.

    Last edited by Galgenstrick: 11/23/2010 3:44:21 PM
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  • #10
    Galgen, before something happens, put your image as a spoiler otherwise all hell will come down on you.

    If you have a problem with a post, please use the Report button. In this case, there's nothing wrong with the above picture.
    Last edited by extremeicon: 11/5/2010 10:03:45 AM
  • #11
    The best way is to have another Sapire, that you know is real and compare those. Most fakes are black bordered, as there's more money in those and you could get the preprinted cards from Collector's edition, round the cornerd, sand the card and just glue real cards back on the mox.

    White bordered fakes are always printed and the differences you should look for are in the printing quality and the card stock.

    It helps to have a really good magnifying glass, or jewelers loop, but all Magic cards have a certain pattern in the print. The image is formed from small dots, that can be clearly seen. Also the card name and text in the text box are printed on top of the other layers, so it should be clearly separated from background.

    As for the card stock. Lot of fakes feel wrong, and can be found out by using a laboratory scale. Also the pattern of the material shows through when holding the card against bright light.

    If I don't have another copy of the same card, I try to se how the text box and the borders match with somewhat similar card from the same set. This time using UL artifact is a good move.

    Another thing to watch out is the sides of the cards. If they are in good condition using enough magnification, you should be able to see the blue line, in the middle of the card stock. This works best on white bordered cards, as it's bit easier to notice. I haven't used this mehod, so I cannot say how feasible this is.

    In the pic you attached, the light source is more behind the Mox, so it's pretty hard to say, but the card stock structure is pretty normal looking to my eye.

    If you really doubt the card, you might ask local shop or experienced trader of power take a look. After handling lot of Unlimited cards people get the feel how the real card should look and feel like.
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  • #12
    Also remember that there was more variation in cards that old. The QC wasnt as good back them but honestly the paper looks legit to me. If you still have doubts try asking on a site called librarities. Those guys are all highend rarity collectors so it shouldnt be hard to find someone there who has handled a lot of moxes.
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  • #13
    Thanks for the help everyone. There is an experienced DCI judge about an hour from where I live. I'll take it down tonight and get one last opinion. I'll let you guys know what he said in case anyone is interested.

    @coinpurse, Thanks. I am new to this forum and of course the rules that go along with it. Spoiler added.
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  • #14
    Quote from Galgenstrick
    Thanks for the help everyone. There is an experienced DCI judge about an hour from where I live. I'll take it down tonight and get one last opinion. I'll let you guys know what he said in case anyone is interested.

    @coinpurse, Thanks. I am new to this forum and of course the rules that go along with it. Spoiler added.


    I am new also and ive learned to be VERY careful doing anything here. So if i see something that could possibly get you a warning, ill help a brother out because most mods here jump at the chance to issue warnings (you know the saying, the best police officer is the one who hands out the most tickets). Me telling you about the spoiler thing for images actually got me in trouble for, "impersonating a mod". Anyways, let us know whats going on man.
  • #15
    Quote from coinpurse
    I am new also and ive learned to be VERY careful doing anything here. So if i see something that could possibly get you a warning, ill help a brother out because most mods here jump at the chance to issue warnings (you know the saying, the best police officer is the one who hands out the most tickets). Me telling you about the spoiler thing for images actually got me in trouble for, "impersonating a mod". Anyways, let us know whats going on man.
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  • #16
    Ok, DCI judge thinks its 99% real. And for fun I took some high magnification images under a microscope at my work, front and back. it is identical to the ink pattern on all real cards I tested. The second one is a little out of focus, sorry about that. Let me know what you think.


    Last edited by Galgenstrick: 11/23/2010 3:46:05 PM
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  • #17
    Sorry to derail the thread but i have a quick question.

    For example someone's trying to sell me a expensive foil, and I have a hunch he just whiped a foil clean and used a high quality printer. How could I tell if it's real or fake?
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  • #18
    Quote from Aman2468
    Sorry to derail the thread but i have a quick question.

    For example someone's trying to sell me a expensive foil, and I have a hunch he just whiped a foil clean and used a high quality printer. How could I tell if it's real or fake?


    take a bit of water on a q tip and rub the center and see if it bleeds just a little bit you dont want to ruin the card if its real.
  • #19
    Quote from Aman2468
    Sorry to derail the thread but i have a quick question.

    For example someone's trying to sell me a expensive foil, and I have a hunch he just whiped a foil clean and used a high quality printer. How could I tell if it's real or fake?


    I checked some of my foils under magnification also, the card picture had the same dotted ink pattern.
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