Collectors have been shocked to discover a sustained campaign of signed goods forgery, with the perpetrator selling off his fraudulent handiwork as the genuine article.
The fraud appears to have been perpetrated on an almost industrial scale, with sales reaching a million yen a month ($10,000).
A Yahoo! Auction user, Maruhacs was discovered to have been suspiciously selling off artworks, supposedly signed by such famous mangaka such as Eiichirou Oda, Toriyama Akira, Sadamoto Yoshiyuki and even Miyazaki Hayao.
Observers first became suspicious of the low prices that the auctions started with, as low as ¥20,000, although it seems likely other factors must have played a significant role too, as setting an unrealistically low reserve price is an established tactic in such auctions.
Most of the works bore little resemblance to the original works of the mangaka in question, with both the artwork and autographs most likely obtained from other sources.
The auction pages do not give any information as to the provenance of the artwork and signature, but this seemingly did not stop people from buying them. In many cases pictures were not even included in the auction descriptions.
Indeed, checking the auction history of the account reveals that he had made around 1 million yen a month selling off these artworks on Yahoo!, and still has a unblemsihed positive rating from a hundred auctions.
In response to this, Eureka Seven animator and character designer Yoshida Kenichi posted on his BBS that he has informed his company of this activity.
Police action seems possible if it really is as severe as it appears, although the scores of fake works now on the market and in collections, to say nothing of the money defrauded, will not be so easily dealt with.