A counterfeit card is a fake trading card. Most counterfeit cards in the context of Yu-Gi-Oh! are of OCG or TCG cards, or are made to mimic them. Counterfeit cards are usually made with the sole purpose of selling them as authentic cards to make a profit, which distinguishes them from fan-created cards, which may be sold as art, but not as real cards.
Many counterfeit cards can be easily recognized by flaws such as oddly colored or low-quality card backings or artworks, and poor grammar in card names, effects, and other card text, which may use the wrong font or be incorrectly sized. Counterfeit Spell and Trap Cards may have ATK and DEF values and even Levels printed on them, and some cards may have their rarity printed following their effect or description due to copy-pasting descriptions from websites/forums that usually write the rarity after the effect. A few of the fake cards even have the words "effect unconfirmed", making the copy-pasting more noticeable.
Fake trading cards are often sold in flea markets, non-legitimate stores, convenience stores, and online.
Most fake cards will have the following tell-tale signs:
- Incorrect format, such as Levels/Ranks or ATK/DEF on what is supposed to be a Spell/Trap card.
- Reversed Konami logo or incorrect spelling of "Konami" (e.g. "Konaini") or no Konami logo at all.
- Incorrect text fonts.
- The use of genuine profanity or improper grammar.
- Incorrect card name, effect, Level, border, artwork, or ATK/DEF.
- The use of OCG names or artworks in what supposedly is a TCG card.
- Attributes without kanji, or completely nonexistent Attributes, such as Sound, Devil, God, or Land.
- Incorrect ordering of card type. Normally, the Monster's Type is listed first, followed by any subtypes, e.g. "Machine/Effect", "Warrior/Synchro/Effect", or "Spellcaster/Spirit".
- Very brightly or incorrectly colored artworks, backs, levels/ranks or borders.
- Bad picture quality (Duel Terminal cards are often blurred because of their parallel coating and are much darker than other cards; as such their artworks should not be confused with this).
- Diagonal Secret Rare-esque lines printed in black onto a non-holofoil artwork.
- Common mistakes with the Type include: "Machine" written as "Maching", "Warrior" as "Fighter", "Zombie" as "Undeat", "Fiend" as "Insect", "Dinosaur" as "Dragon", and "Fairy" as "Angel".
- Card types which feature the type and sub-type being separated by a period rather than a slash (e.g. "Fighter.Effect").
- Fusion Monsters which list "Melting", "Amalgamation", "Mix" or "Combination" rather than "Fusion" in the type. Likewise, Ritual Monsters which list "Ceremony" instead of "Ritual". Synchro Monsters are often called "Homogenity" also the Tuner monsters are called "Adjuster". Gemini Monsters are often called "resummon".
- Incorrect terminology in card descriptions (e.g. using "Adversary"/"Rival" instead of "Opponent", "Life score" instead of "Life Points", "fieldside positioned" instead of "face-up", "Common Monster" instead of "Normal Monster" and "bout" instead of "Phase").
- Passcode/Limitation Text missing from the lower left corner. However, do note that there are some real cards, such as "Labyrinth Wall", which do not have a passcode at all.
- Cards that are called ("Demon(الشيطان)", "Domino(الدومينو)", "Animal(الغريبة)" instead of "Monster".
- Copyright text (©1996 KAZUKI TAKAHASHI) missing from the lower right corner next to the Eye of Anubis or misspelled.
- "Kazuki Takahashi" spelled incorrectly due to reading the kanji incorrectly (高橋 和希).
- On boosters, the seals at the top and bottom should be vertical, not horizontal.
- Too reflective, or spiral/circular reflective patterns over the entire card.
- No "English Edition" label on top of the booster pack.
- No Eye of Anubis, or the Eye of Anubis is not reflective (though OCG cards with the original layout all lacked the Eye of Anubis). Also, it should never be able to peel off the hologram; if it is an actual sticker, the card is fake.
- Incorrect Eye of Anubis, for example a supposed 1st Edition card with a silver Eye of Anubis instead of a gold one.
- Incorrect Rarity (most fake cards have Common as the only Rarity) or Rarity that is not holographic (e.g. a card has gold letters that are not reflective).
- Strange logos, such as "New Yu-Gi-Oh!" or both "Yu-Gi-Oh! GX" and "Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's" logos on a single pack/tin.
- On booster packs and boxes, the Cover Card does not match the set, or the set name given does not match any officially released set. Additionally, on boosters, the monster featured on the cover may not be the correct one (for example, "Dragard" on the cover of a "Galactic Overlord" booster).
- Starter Deck that purely focuses on 1 specific archetype, even going as far as printing anime-only cards that are related to the archetype and put it into the Starter Deck. Note that official Starter Decks sometimes have cards related to an archetype in them, but they never purely focus on it.
- On a character's Starter or Structure Deck, the featured cover card is not related to the character (e.g. "Cloudian - Eye of the Typhoon" as cover card for a supposedly Jaden-based Deck).
- Complete decks in tins (note that there are authentic Yu-Gi-Oh! tins, but they are much bigger than the fake "deck tins", and always shows the cover card that match the tin. The authentic tins usually contain booster packs and/or promo cards, not full decks).
- Counterfeit cards sometimes have a thin layer of plastic over the card's surface.
- 1st Edition cards that don't have a gold hologram in the bottom right corner.
- Lack of the "Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game" logo on the card's backing (the Egyptian God Cards are the only exception; they have no logos on the back and have red, yellow, or blue-tinted backing designs. On that note, fake God Cards may have the normal coloring and logos on the back that all the normal cards have. Note that these are only the ones that may not be used in duels, and in Battle Pack 2: War of the Giants and several other sets, Effect versions were released that may be used in duels and have normal Effect coloring).
- Cards that claim to be Exodia in a single card (exceptions being "Exodia Necross", "Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord", and ""The Legendary Exodia Incarnate").
- Some Starter Decks have a Yu-Gi-Oh! logo that says Shonen Nump.