Fake cards

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An example of a Pokémon TCG fan-made image fake card

A fake card is a general term to denote any kind of custom, fictional or duplicate card based on cards from any particular trading card game, but are created by someone other than the original creators of that game, generally either by fans of the game or by some other company to sell to unsuspecting consumers. Since the release of the Pokémon TCG, fans and nefarious companies alike began to make Pokémon fake cards, and still continue to do so to this day.

The four kinds of Pokémon fake cards that exist today are:

  • Counterfeit cards, cards created by companies other than Nintendo, Pokémon Inc., Pokémon USA Inc., Media Factory, Creatures or Wizards of the Coast, mostly by taking existing cards and making cheaper duplicates of them;
  • Fan-made text fakes, custom cards created by fans that exist only in text or written form with very little, if any, imagery used to create the card;
  • Fan-made custom cards, custom cards created by hand by fans using tangible tools like markers and correction fluid, either using an existing card as a base or using a blank template to draw their card on; and,
  • Fan-made image fakes, custom cards created by fans using computer and a system of blank cards and other elements to create a completely new card from scratch, including new text and even an image they drew themselves.

Counterfeit cards

Counterfeit cards are likely the first type of fake cards to exist, appearing shortly after the Pokémon TCG grew in popularity in Japan. Counterfeit Pokémon cards are generally duplicates of existing cards, often contain flaws or cheaper materials which make them inferior to legitimate Pokémon cards.

In the early days of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, when the cards were gaining popularity in Western countries, counterfeit Pokémon cards frequently appeared in hopes of fooling unsuspecting buyers unfamiliar with the Pokémon franchise, as well as buyers who were unconcerned with the legitimacy of the cards, as Pokémon merchandise was in high demand and stores would be often out-of-stock of legitimate cards. Early counterfeit cards, made by companies such as Q-boy, were often exact copies of legitimate Pokémon cards, but printed on cheaper card stock and usually missing copyright information. Due to the cheap reproduction technologies used, counterfeit cards usually have lower-quality artwork, with print colors varying from the originals. In the late 1990s, police forces seized thousands of fake Pokémon cards, including over 500,000 from a warehouse in Hackensack, NJ.[1]

Recent counterfeits are often more sophisticated than earlier attempts; however, modern counterfeits still have many flaws. Modern counterfeits are not usually direct copies of legitimate cards, and often contain critical spelling, grammatical, visual or factual errors. Common errors include the absence of the e-acute on the word "Pokémon", wrong or mis-sized energy symbols, or mis-named Pokémon (such as "Farren" for Flareon or "Lation" for Latios). Occasionally, counterfeit cards will be misprinted, making each card a humorous farce of its original (like a Psychic-type Rattata card with an attack that does 1000 damage, or a Magneton with 800 HP that should have 80). To further deceive potential buyers, modern counterfeits usually retain copyright information.

Fan-made text fakes

Probably the first kinds of fakes made by fans, text fakes are simple and easy to make. Most message boards with a sizable Pokémon TCG community have a fake card forum as well, like The PokéGym's Create-a-Card forum.

Fan-made custom cards

Another popular method of making fake cards are custom cards, where creators will make their own fakes using tangible art tools. Usually they will take an existing card, cover up many of the existing bits using correction fluid, and writing in their own text. Other methods include using blank templates provided by the staff at various Pokémon TCG tournaments, including Wizards of the Coast's own Create-a-Card templates; these templates had spaces to draw your Pokémon, write in all the text necessary for the card, and sometimes also included a sheet of energy symbols for its attack, type, weakness and resistance.

Beckett Pokémon Unofficial Collector was known to publish fan-made custom cards which had been sent to the magazine.

Fan-made image fakes

Fan-made image fakes make up the largest and most popular fake card community within the Pokémon community. This format was popularized by Nick15 when his first fake, Missingno., was posted on one of the largest Pokémon TCG websites of the day, the PokéCenter at CCGNews.com. Eventually Nick15 began posting his creations on his own website Pokémon Aaah!, as well as instructions on how people can make their own. This system began to grow in popularity and was adopted by other sites, like Pokémon Zeo. Although image fakes are not nearly as popular as they were in the past, there are still plenty of people and sites who continue to promote them, like PokemonCardMaker.ORG. At times these kinds of cards can be found on auction sites like eBay, sold by people who don't know that they aren't real cards to begin with.

External links

  • FakeCard.com Archive of the first Pokémon TCG fake card website, previously known as Pokémon Aaah!, created by Nick15
  • Pokémon Zeo The second ever Pokémon TCG fake card website, created by The Echidna and purity
  • Anatomy of a Fake Pokémon Card Article at the PokéGym discussing how to spot a counterfeit Pokémon TCG card.


  1. Hintze, Hal. "Fake 'n' Bake." Pojo's Unofficial Pokémon News & Price Guide Monthly Dec. 1999: 120-21.

Project TCG logo.png This article is part of Project TCG, a Bulbapedia project that aims to report on every aspect of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.