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Dust Jacket Collector

A report from today’s Antiques Trade Gazette :-

Raid on eBay seller's 'fake medal factory' run from garden shed leaves market reeling

A trading standards investigation has unearthed a ‘medal factory’ in Derbyshire, sparking the fear that thousands of fake military awards and badges could be in circulation.

 
img_1-2.jpg
One of the fake Distinguished Flying Crosses made by Croft Militaria. 

The fake medal and poppy badge-making operation ran from a garden shed and a spare bedroom. An investigation that began in 2016 was concluded last week with a successful prosecution.

Trading Standards officers began investigating Croft Militaria Ltd following calls from collectors suspicious that the company was offering so many seemingly rare medals.

They found “a large-scale and sophisticated operation set up to manufacture military medals” at the Ashbourne Road, Mackworth Village address of company director Henry Lyttel, aged 29.

Lyttel traded as ‘badgeman2005’ on eBay. The seller was accused of offering fake gallantry medals and military badges, including Military Crosses and Distinguished Flying Crosses, along with pin badges bearing the poppy emblem, which is trademarked by the Royal British Legion.

Mark Smith, medal specialist at AH Baldwin & Sons, was among those who assisted in the four-year investigation. He said: “After accompanying a dawn raid by police and trading standards I was amazed to find what can only be described as a medal factory.

img_4-1.jpg

 Croft Militaria made fake gallantry medals, including Military Crosses, from a home in Derbyshire.

“A shed in the garden contained hundreds of faked medals, cap badges, shoulder titles and helmet plates. It was an incredible array of exceptional quality fakes, covering many regiments and units from all ages – literally hundreds of them.” Smith added: “This is a devastating blow to the medal world because these items are so good.” He believes Croft also used auction houses to sell some of the medals and badges through general sales.

The gallantry medals were manufactured from metals including pre-1940s silver and struck by a process identical to that used by the Royal Mint. Engraving and oxidising chemicals helped make them appear old.

Trading Standards officers established that Lyttel would often purchase incomplete medal groups at auction – those with provenance but typically missing the key award. He would then make any missing medals and sell on the group for much more.

It is estimated that Lyttel’s business made in excess of £72,000 in sales of fake medals and around £10,000 in the sale of fake poppy pin badges.

Officers have identified 77 sales of counterfeit medals via eBay and it is believed a larger number of badges, plates and pins were also traded.

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Knotty

Caveat emptor, as they say.

Thanks for the timely reminder, there has been a lot in the press recently about the forthcoming “house clearances”, and the burgeoning amount of surplus goods for offer. Not wishing to be cynical but I expect several “not wanted souvenirs” to appear in the near future.

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Lightsteve

Why did it take 4 years!!!

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Kimberley John Lindsay

Dear All,

Better later than never.

Those fraudsters are in deep trouble, not to mention disgrace...

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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Coldstreamer

I wouldnt say deep trouble

 

Lyttel, of Ashbourne Road, Mackworth Village, received a two-year sentence, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from acting as a director of a company for five years.

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Kimberley John Lindsay
Posted (edited)

Dear Coldstreamer,

Yes, I see what you mean. But surely the disgrace remains...

Kindest regards,

Kim.

Edited by Kimberley John Lindsay

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Dust Jacket Collector

I’m glad I only collect WW1 books - nobody bothers to fake them (I hope!).

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derekb

I think that Lyttel has been let off too lightly, people save up to buy something that they will cherish, what comfort will they have?

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Coldstreamer

People that commit fraud like this dont have concept of disgrace 

 

100 hrs working in a covid ward would be a good option 

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Kimberley John Lindsay

Dear Coldstreamer,

Yes, I'm afraid you are right. 

One could almost say the wretch got off 'Scot-free' as the saying goes...

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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MartH
1 hour ago, Dust Jacket Collector said:

I’m glad I only collect WW1 books - nobody bothers to fake them (I hope!).

 

You can turn a reprint into a fake original, and print dw's on to old paper. My later farther used to restore books, it is amazing what a skilled person can do, his A3 printer, old paper and cold tea was amazing!

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RNCVR
1 hour ago, Coldstreamer said:

People that commit fraud like this dont have concept of disgrace 

 

100 hrs working in a covid ward would be a good option 

 

Agee!  That sentence was a disgrace, & unless the dies were confiscated they, or some other fraudster, will be back in buiness in no time at all.

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ss002d6252
13 minutes ago, RNCVR said:

 

Agee!  That sentence was a disgrace, & unless the dies were confiscated they, or some other fraudster, will be back in buiness in no time at all.

In most cases they'd ask the court to order forfeiture & destruction.


Craig

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RNCVR

Been a lot of gab on the medals forum about this & they were mainly convicted on the Poppy reproductions & fraudelantly using the RBL trademark.  & not on the medal\decoration reproductions, I dont think the actual dies were confiscated, but I hope I am wrong.

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ss002d6252
12 minutes ago, RNCVR said:

Been a lot of gab on the medals forum about this & they were mainly convicted on the Poppy reproductions & fraudelantly using the RBL trademark.  & not on the medal\decoration reproductions, I dont think the actual dies were confiscated, but I hope I am wrong.

 

That's a pity. Looking elsewhere it seems the medals were not part of the admitted offences

Quote

– running a fraudulent business
– supplying a poppy pin badge that was in breach of a trade mark held by the Royal British Legion, and;
– having in his possession for supply, badges with the poppy emblem in breach of a trade mark


So, yes, it seems the medals themselves were not involved in the final charges but I believe there is some scope in legislation to seize items used in any offence where a person has been convicted of an offence. Unfortunately this can be a highly technical area for argument and actual application. In the magistrates' it's easy as it's almost always just drug seizures we get.
 

Craig

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RNCVR

I (& many other medal collectors) certainly hope the dies were seized & will ultimately be destroyed!

 

Thanks,

Bryan

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Knotty

Taken from Derbyshire CC trading standards record of the case 9th June 2020

 

Dies for striking blank copy medals, struck but unfinished medals and materials to age and distress the medals being made were seized along with a large number of poppy pin badges.

 

Hopefully destruction has or will take place.

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RNCVR

Thanks for that Knotty, hopefully the dies & blanks\unfinished medals will be destroyed in due course.

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depaor01

A bit shortsighted to destroy them in my view.

They are evidently of sufficient accuracy to have fooled some serious collectors. Surely better to give the collecting community high resolution images of confiscated examples with which to compare with the real thing.

If they are destroyed without this step being taken then a wealth of fake-spotting knowledge will be lost.

Dave

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Knotty

I can see where you are coming from Dave, but it wasn’t just the medals and poppy pins they were faking, there were cap badges, shoulder titles, helmet plates numbering into the thousands and exported around the world, and another quote from the Council....

 

“Trading standards officers, working with military medal experts, estimated that Lyttel’s business made in excess of £72,000 in sales of fake medals and around £10,000 in the sale of fake poppy pin badges.”

 

If you add that to the rest in must well be in excess of £100,000 dishonesty gained. As the Council employed some “military medal experts”, unfortunately not named, I’m sure that they will have some input into letting the medal collecting community know exactly what to be on the look out for.

 

John

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

Looking at the quality of the dies, the sophistication of the fakes, and the realistic ageing effects visible in the photo, he may end up getting a job with the Royal Mint. I wonder if he made the dies? It took considerable effort and skill, but he also took a great risk for what was not a life changing amount of money when spread over several years. BMF has a list of names of many of the known award holders that he faked the medals of.

 

I agree that the dies and some samples warrant being displayed in e.g. the Royal Mint museum as a warning and for future comparison. The photo was taken in 2016 when the dies & fakes were confiscated. Makes you wonder what else is out there! It will damage confidence among collectors as well as cause financial loss to those caught out by his scam.

 

Link for the record: https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/news-events/news-updates/news/company-boss-sentenced-for-selling-fake-medals-and-poppy-pins.aspx

 

Photo (2016): https://www.militaria-history.co.uk/news/croft-militaria-boss-convicted-of-fraud/#News-1

 

Edited by Ivor Anderson
Additional information

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Chasemuseum

Unfortunately people like this do a great disservice to the hobby. In Australia we have had a couple of serious fraudsters. In the late 70s a former military officer Rex Clarke acquired a medal naming machine (believed to have stolen one of the machines from the Government) and was creating "named" Australian medal groups using blanks also stolen from the Government and unnamed WW2 British medals (Australian WW2 medals are named). He was ultimately caught, prosecuted and disgraced. He died in the 80s - I think suicide but am not sure.

 

For the coin collecting community, in the 80s a worker in one of the main collectable coin shops in the country had access to some very rare, collectable coins (holey dollars, dumps, and colonial gold "pounds") and produced very accurate die struck fakes. Using the shops contact lists he knew many of the major collectors and direct marketed the fakes. He was sent to gaol for fraud ( no community service orders). 

 

 

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