I know that nobody has responded to this post in over 6 years. I have gone through -and mostly read- over 2000 post of this forum alone and another 4600 if the Imperial German forum and come to the conclusion that our hobby has become a minefield. I started to collect in the early '80s but stopped because of financial constraints. I started again about 1 year ago and found the entire landscape changed almost beyond recognition.
It appears that the internet, which did not exist 30 years ago has made a tremendous impact, both positive and negative. On the plus side, we can now communicate with our fellow collectors instantly and share ideas and information; in the minus side, the unscrupulous have found a new way to separate the unwary from his or her hard earned cash through all manner of crooked schemes and medal collecting has, sadly, not been immune. There must now be legions of counterfeiters all over the world producing what can only be described as garbage and sell this stuff on auction sites.
Unfortunately, there really are people out there who still believe that one can buy gold and platinum Lenin or a Pour le Merite at a bargain price on Ebay. Even more concerning are those items which are more everyday goods like Red Banners or Iron Crosses, and sell them for prices approaching market values. It is only because my near permanent state of impecuniosity that I have not been ripped off by these characters.
After having read 6000+ post, I have to admit that i am very reluctant to buy anything online, even from what appear to be reputable dealers. Unless one has expert knowledge of the items in question, it is at best a crap shoot. I know there are some on this site who can recognize fakes at a glance, but the vast majority of us do not have this skill. I do not wish to impose on the good will of other forum members every time I want to make a purchase.
I have come to the conclusion that I am really quite ignorant when it comes to fakes. I am trying to learn but it is difficult when one cannot make an actual visual comparison between a real and a fake medal.
If only someone could come up with a solution..................