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Korg Duplicate Sales

Posted under Early Korg Serials at . Last updated 2023-12-19 00:04.
Tags:Korg, reference

There are several instances cropping up — as at March 2023 usually multiple instances each month — of sales listings of devices covered in this project which seem less than completely sincere. Mostly the questionable elements are duplicate photographs of the items for sale. I cannot say with any certainty whether any of these are outright scams, but it seems possible.

A major possibility is that genuine sellers of different devices are simply copying an original set of pictures from another seller. This has been a common practice on eBay for many years. Sometimes sellers state clearly that a picture is not of the actual item for sale. Sometimes people use manufacturers’ promotional images, but that doesn’t apply to vintage synths very often. It may be that some sellers do not have access to a camera, but that is no longer common, and less so where people are selling in large volumes and/or claiming to be well-established businesses. In all instances noted here there was no acknowledgement of the images (or descriptive text) being copied. In some cases the models listed are rare enough that it is extraordinarily unlikely that multiple sellers would have one for sale within weeks of each other, whether or not they have their own cameras.

So far, in all cases here the listings are purportedly items for sale from Japan, though the postage may be from China instead. It is not usually certain whether they are being listed in the Japanese domestic market, or only internationally. While it is not inconceivable that some businesses in Japan may have a sort of collaborative arrangement, for example offering the same real instrument through multiple outlets in different localities, it is not obvious why this would be at significantly different prices. It is also observable that the highest prices for a given set of photographs tend to be the first listed. And the photographs are sometimes altered in quality and geometry, perhaps in an attempt to disguise their origin.

Perhaps strangely, the photographs sometimes (and in all instances noted here) contain legible serial numbers. (There also seem to be several others from many of the same sellers which do not.) This would seem counterproductive if an actual scam is being attempted, as it’s easy to track them. On the other hand it is often the case that the same photos are visible simultaneously in either a search results page, or as many as three copies of the same photo may be shown in a single eBay recommendations list, so you don’t really need the numbers to spot the question.

(There are also cases where photographs are used in which the serial numbers have been either blanked prior to upload or covered with tape for the photograph. Occasionally these seem to get copied too. Why anyone would do this is not obvious as it so clearly gives the impression of insincerity, or at least makes it easy for actually dishonest people to appropriate the images.)

Again, it is not possible for me to fully assess the validity or otherwise of the listings; the notes below are kept for information only. I have not been keeping details of prices, or addresses (which usually aren’t available anyway).

ModelSerial NºDate FoundNotes
Delta 283648 2023-01-04 Two listings by sellers G1 & H1.
2023-03-08 Two listings by different sellers. One of these, C1, has the highest price and provides a detailed address, so may be the original. The other (P1) is new.
2023-03-15 Two more listings by two new sellers, Q1 and R1.
283837 2023-01-08 Listed twice by different sellers, C1 (earlier, higher price, detailed address) and I1.
2023-01-12 Listed by J1.
2023-01-23 Listed by K1.
2023-03-12 Listed by I1 again.
2023-03-19 Listed by J1 again.
2023-04-12 Listed by I1 again.
2023-05-04 Listed by I1 again.
2023-05-31 Listed by I1 again.
KMS-30 002450 2022-09-25 Two sellers, E1 & F1.
KMX-8 000635 2023-05-24 Seller H2.
2023-07-20 Seller I2 (cheaper).
Mono/Poly 370245 2023-01-23 Two sellers, F1 (earlier, higher price) and L1.
2023-02-02 Seller I1 is now listing this.
2023-03-08 Seller C1 is now listing this, with a picture that wasn’t in the earlier listings found. Too late to compare prices.
2023-07-02 Seller C1 listing this again.
374771 2022-05-15 Two sellers, A1 and B1. After some confusion I realised that B1 had rotated most of the pictures (giving the impression of being at right-angles to sincerity). While A1 claimed to be licensed by the Japanese Police Department and to have an authorisation number. No reason why authorisation might be needed was given.
2022-05-26 Seller C1 is listing this, and provides a detailed address in Saitama and has the highest price for it. Seller D1 is also listing it, with location given as JP, Japan but postage from Greater China. (Hey, Japan, isn’t that reassuring?)
MS-10 134458 2023-04-24 Seller S1
2023-05-04 Two sellers, T1 & U1
2023-05-18 Seller Y1
2023-05-31 Seller Z1
2023-06-03 Seller A2
2023-06-08 Seller B2
2023-06-11 Seller U1 again
MS-20 146898 2023-02-02 Seller I1 has listed this twice with slightly different pictures.
2023-02-12 Seller M1 has it listed with more pictures, location in Nagoya.
146995 2022-03-12 Listed by two sellers purportedly in different parts of Japan at different prices. (This being the first duplication I noticed I didn’t keep any details.)
146774 2023-07-02 Unusually, Seller C1 has this listed twice at different prices and with slightly different descriptions; I assume they’re reusing their own pictures here for different instruments.
140108 2023-12-12 Originally listed in July 2023 by seller C1, found relisted by seller J2 in December 2023, supposedly located in Shinjuku, Japan, but postage from Greater China. Type·Keyboard Synthesizer KORG MS-20 Early, I was an old child, and have been storing it all the time since I got it.”
PolySix 385072 2023-02-27 Two sellers, N1 & O1. O1 (listing less than 24 hours after N1) did not include a legible picture of the serial number.
390218 2023-06-22 Two sellers, D2 & E2. D2, listing a day or so earlier, is a little more expensive than E2.
2023-07-02 Seller C1 is now listing this. (A little cheaper than the above examples but that’s not including postage).
Synthesizer Traveler 720604 2023-05-07 Four sellers, C1 (highest price), V1, W1, X1
X-911 270813 2023-06-17 Seller F2
2023-06-22 Seller G2. Some pics are rotated compared with F2 and there are fewer of them.

It may be useful to note that many of these sellers have had fairly large inventories at times, which partially overlap. The implication of that is unclear however.

If some of these duplications are some sort of regular arrangement, it might be anticipated that the sellers would be operating as a consistent group. But these results, albeit with a small sample size (and more complete monitoring of all their inventories might clarify matters) do not appear to show much consistency other than that C1 is usually in the cluster, and usually shows signs of being the original. (This frequency seems likely to be a selection bias resulting from this seller’s (unusual?) habitual inclusion of serial numbers in their photography. I won’t be noting duplications without them even if I spot them.)

To date the observed clusters are:

  • A1 B1 C1 D1
  • C1 G1 H1 P1 Q1 R1
  • C1 I1 F1 L1
  • C1 J1 K1 P1
  • C1 V1 W1 X1
  • E1 F1
  • I1 M1
  • N1 O1
  • S1 T1 U1 Y1 Z1 A2
  • C1 J2

Each of these is a single group of duplicate photographs, so there is no broader pattern indicative of a regular relationship. Possibly some sellers are using multiple accounts, but if so that would not imply honesty.

Another point that is gradually becoming potentially meaningful is that most of the earlier more dubious seller names do not seem to reappear over the long term, whereas the less dubious ones do, and then seem to have their photos copied by new hitherto-unknown sellers. Conceivably these are the old sellers with new account names, though, as they seem to nevertheless have feedback scores in the hundreds. I can make no comment regarding the veracity of these scores.

It should be borne in mind that I am unlikely to spot even every instance of multiple listings with serial numbers. And I have no real knowledge of who is selling what in the Japanese domestic market.

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