Don't get scammed! How to spot fake designer goods

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When buying designer goods, a few simple steps can keep you from getting scammed. (KTRK)

If you have a designer handbag, luxury watch, or expensive jewelry on your wish list this holiday, chances are it's going to cost a lot. But there's a new trend in luxury gifting: buying pre-owned.

It's risky business if you can't spot a fake, but if you know how to get an authentic piece, it could save you lots of money!

Twenty years ago, Rob Chramosta made his passion his profession by establishing his store, Time's Past. It's a place where he sells rare jewelry and pre-owned luxury watches.

For example, he'll sell a gold Rolex Submariner that would retail in the mid-$30,000s for between $10,000 and $20,000.

Determining whether a watch like a Rolex is real can be difficult.



"Unfortunately, the counterfeits that are coming out of China are crazy good. Unless you really know what you're doing, it's hard to tell the difference," Chramosta said.

He said it comes down to a trained eye to know the real thing from the fake -- and his customers trust him to know the difference.

Another great gift for guys is a Louis Vuitton wallet, which typically run around $500.

"In our store, they'll run anywhere from $100 to $300," Chramosta explained.

When his wife Donae, affectionately known as the Vintage Contessa, came on board, their business grew. Her passion is finding and selling handbags from designer brands like Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

If you're in the market for a real, gently used Louie, first look at the handle for the patina -- you actually want it to look used.



"It should all be facing in the same direction and come around in one piece," Donae said of the handbag's signature monogram print.

Also, make sure a Louis Vuitton has a serial number.

"The serial numbers vary, where they're found in every bag, and sometimes they're even hard to find because its so old and its worn out," Chramosta explained.



A Louis Vuitton Speedy bag that would cost over $1,000 at retail will cost around $600 from the Vintage Contessa.

For Chanel bags, ask for the authentication card.

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Finally, another pre-owned luxury gift idea is a Hermes scarf. They go for half price -- about $200 -- at Vintage Contessa.

"The main thing we look for when we're buying them is the authentication tag," Donae said. Hermes scarves will also be stamped with an authentic Hermes logo.



All of these items are still pricey, but if you do opt for a pre-owned piece, it's always best to do it in person as opposed to online.

Donae and Rob suggest to get serial numbers and authentication cards.

And, most importantly, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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