THE FAKE INDUSTRY: WHY WE SHOULD LOOK AT OURSELVES FIRST
We’re all potential victims, but at the same time we may all be capable of deceit. Suppose you have inherited a painting and you have always been convinced that it was a work of art by Karel Appel. Or you bought it yourself. But now it turns out that it is not an apple, but a forgery. Nevertheless, you put that painting into circulation. At some point you have a buyer who wants to pay 300,000 euros for it. If you sell the forgery, you’re obviously cheating. But you could reason that you or your parents were once fooled too, and thus try to ‘condone’ your sale for yourself, as it were: Of course, that’s when the norm begins to fade. Or you might think: the buyer will in turn be able to resell the painting. Is that a form of organized, pathological scam? Of course not, but the temptation can be too great to take the wrong path. Or suppose you sell a car that you know is not 100% okay. You notice that the buyer is unsuspecting, and you say nothing about the defects of the car. You catch a more than correct price for the car, even though you know that the buyer will have to make large costs. Again, this is not organized fraud, but it is common and it is very humane. Fraud is, as it were, a natural ‘gift’: a kind of basic human instinct for survival. People who consciously buy a false Rolex or a false Vuitton, for example, actually commit deception as well. They are cheating their surroundings, because they’re parading a Rolex or a Vuitton that isn’t really is. And there are even those who have come to believe that this Rolex or Vuitton is real and therefore deceive themselves. Go to the medina in Marrakech of lstanbul, the flea market in Brussels or at the time the Falcon Square in Antwerp,52 and you can buy ‘brand clothing’ at bargain prices. Counterfeiting, of course, but your surroundings don’t need to know that. If you don’t have the money to buy real branded clothing, but you can get good counterfeit clothes to show them off to friends and family for a prick, then it will be very tempting. The moral of the story? Of course, not everyone is a patented pathological swindler, but the petite histoire outlined does suggest that everyone may be susceptible or tempted to cheat. Incidentally, as far as counterfeiting is concerned, The USA passed a law in 2007, which makes the imports of counterfeit goods and piracy punished. Consumers who bring counterfeit goods to The USA can be fined and the goods can be seized and destroyed. The nature of the penalty depends on several factors. Are you a buyer or a seller? Were you acting in good faith or not? Are the goods from a country within the European Union or not? If you bought counterfeit goods outside the EU, you risk seizure and destruction of the counterfeit goods. The law also provides for fines of up to 500,000 euros and imprisonment for up to three years. These penalties apply to both consumers and traders. Traders who trade counterfeit goods within the EU risk various criminal sanctions. Consumers in possession of counterfeit goods traded within the EU are not punished in The USA. ?