Why reproduce diving helmets and other apparatus?

When a person forges a bank note or even a stamp they risk up to 20 years in prison, but until today I have not heard of any dealer being punished for selling a fake diving helmet as a genuine one. Somehow they always seem to get away with their scams, maybe because the people who discover they have bought a fake helmet from a crooked dealer would rather try and sell it on to recoup their losses.


Personally I believe it is even worse selling imitation diving apparatus and claiming that it is a genuine, than forging banknotes or stamps. This is because you do not have to rely on banknotes or stamps in a way you have to rely on your diving equipment while diving with it. Fraud with diving equipment could potentially have far greater life threatening consequences if it is to be used for historical diving purposes.


I know it is often difficult to legally prosecute a dealer who knowingly sold a fake helmet: they will either claim they bought it as a genuine helmet themselves and may often offer you your money back, then sell the helmet to the next innocent client. Some dealers may have a lot to lose and can therefore be extremely rude when confronted with a fake. When I listed the fake Swedish helmet on eBay in 2009 I received threatening emails and letters from a dealer here in Holland who was not happy with what I was saying. Fortunately no names have ever been mentioned, but many of us that collect, deal and dive the old apparatus  know who these corrupt people and dealers are. Some even have the cheek to be members of historical diving organizations.


I ask anyone who is offered or has been sold fake helmets or diving apparatus to expose the scams for what they are and to quickly warn other collectors and interested parties. This is the only way to hamper the fraudulent activities of the crooks and fakers who cause long term harm and mistrust among those of us with a genuine interest in historical diving apparatus.

FAKE HELMET ALERT!

Monday september 5 - 2011, a new ‘Fake Helmet Alert!’

Only 3 weeks ago the new chapter ‘Fake Helmet Alert!’ has been added to this website after a new series of fake helmets had been discovered: the 3 bolt Siebe Gorman Heinke helmets. Last week I received a sad email from Denmark where a collector had bought such a helmet and a fake Draeger helmet. The helmets were sold to him as genuine diving helmets by a young man calling himself ‘Johnny from France’ who drove a white van with french license plates. The german dealer and his son who sold an identical fake helmet here in Holland have an address in France and drive a bleu Mercedes Benz E class sedan with french license plates. The danish collector provided the license plates number of the van ‘Johnny’ drove in and currently these license plate numbers are checked out with the french police. The young man calling himself Johnny is believed to be the son of the german dealer family, the van might be a rental. The license plates numbers are: 250 BVL 83 please let us know when you are contacted by or have met with these dealers.


At the pictures here below the two fake helmets are shown which were sold in Denmark last week, the Draeger is of a less quality then the ones which appeared for sale around 2002 but still looking good enough to be sold as a genuine helmet to a collector who never owed a genuine one...

Monday April 16 - 2012. News Update ‘Fake helmets are still sold’

The last 10 days I have been driving around Europe visiting collectors and friends. Down the road the following news reached me:

The case with the fake 3 bolt Heinke / Siebe Gorman helmets has not yet came to an end. Last month a professional diver in Belgium was contacted by the same crooks who have been selling bad helmets since ‘years’ now: see the story which is explained in the ‘fake helmet alert’ chapter. This diver was offered a bad quality Draeger fake helmet, a fairly good quality 3 bolt Siebe Gorman / Heinke helmet and a bad quality fake Miller Dunn 3 shallow water helmet. He only purchased the shallow water helmet.

Last week a collector in Germany was visited by the same crooks, driving the same van with french license plates as was used in Denmark last year. There they told a touching story about ‘granddad’ who had been a diver, and they were about to get rid of his old equipment. Unfortunately the collector himself was not at home when they dropped by with their merchandise but the collectors wife who believed that she was doing a good deal bought 2 bad quality fake Draeger helmets and 2 of the Siebe Gorman / Heinke 3 bolt helmets for which she paid 6000 euros cash.

These crooks who were arrested after an entire collection of diving helmets was stolen from a collector in Germany have still not appeared at the court of justice in Freising, the case has again been delayed. The theft of these diving helmets is now 3 years ago(!) Recently it has turned out that the delay has been caused by a ( notorious ) dutch dealer who appears to have been doing business with the crooks since many years. Apparently he now twice has called the court of justice in Freising 1 day before the case was scheduled claiming that his work does not allow him to be present at the court. Since he has met the crooks the day after the collection of diving helmets was stolen he is a key witness and for that reason the entire case has been post phoned twice now. Apparently he is frustrating the case and in the mean while the crooks are continuing with their fraud. Lets hope the germans find a way to force this dealer in court, when needed handcuffed ...

Saturday June 16 - 2012. News Update ‘Fake helmets are still sold’

This email reached me today:


Dear “guardian” of a clean business, J

 

Today,  at the front door of my house was offered to me a Siebe Gorman and Draeger-3-bolt diving helmet. The last time I have dived in 1987 with a Dräger helmet. That is why I cannot say of whether the helmets were real.  The driver / salesman spoke perfect German. His white VAN had French number plates. He asked for 1900, - € per helmet. He asked several times for when I had that money available. In his car he had several maritime items, such as a "historic war ship" in a glass case. We have agreed to speak together again on Monday at 08:00 clock by mobile and complete the "deal". Let's see what he does when I offering him 500, - € per helmet or less. He said farewell with the announcement that he still has customers are waiting of him in Rostock .

 

Maybe I prevent another big disillusionment of a com-diver colleague.

 

Regards/Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Friday August 3 - 2012. News Update ‘Fake helmets are still sold’

This email reached me today:


Hello David – I have been looking at your website and am hoping you will give me your opinion about a helmet I have just bought on ebay from Germany, but which I suspect is a fake. 

 

My name is Steve Craig from Cairns in Australia.

I have been a collector of diving helmets, compressors, nautical books and other nautical artefacts for 30 years so have a bit of an idea what I am looking at – just need some backup I guess, and more specific helmet expertise,and expertise on fakes, which you seem to have an abundance of. We have a business at Green Island (on the Great Barrier Reef) – www.marinelandgreenisland.com.au – and both my dad and myself have been collectors for years. You can also see us on facebook if you’re interested.

 

The ebay item number was #130728196764



The seller had it listed as a siebe gorman diving helmet, I paid $US4700 plus $US300 freight for it and as soon as I opened the box and inspected it, I suspect it is a fake, but to make my Paypal claim as strong as possible, I would like to ask for your input.   There are a few things that don’t seem right about it (as follows). In Leon Lyons “Helmets of the Deep” book, he features a SG light harbour helmet – the air inlet is on an angle in the book, but the one I have received is straight up and down. On the inside of the corset, where the 4 weight lugs (2 back and 2 front) are attached – the method of attachment doesn’t look substantial enough compared to my other original SG. The hinge pin doesn’t look very strong, and the inside of the neck ring doesn’t quite look right to me. There are no numbers on the corset or the helmet. The name plate looks genuine, although not attached very well, as does the spitcock. Other than that, it is a very good copy, but I believe it’s still a copy. Have attached some photos, and would really appreciate your feedback and opinion about it’s authenticity.

I have contacted the seller and asked for a refund because I believe the item to be a fake, but he has responded that he doesn’t agree as (quote) “he has shown the helmet to the biggest collector in Germany – Mr Wagner – and that Mr Wagner says that it is real”.  Do you know anything about a Wagner that is a collector in Germany?

 


I look forward to hearing back from you when convenient. I hope the files are not too big, but wanted to send pictures as big as possible for your best viewing.

Anyway – if you have time, it would be greatly appreciated if you could give me your opinion.

many thanks for any assistance David

regards Steve Craig.

the photo’s sent to this website by Stephen Craig

My reply:


Hello Steve,


Thank you for your email, I am sorry that we have not met on happier grounds. No, the helmet is not a genuine helmet, as you can see on my website there are many for sale all over Europe since a couple of years:


http://www.divescrap.com/DiveScrap_INDEX/fake_helmet_alert%21.html


And when you read the story on my website then you will understand that the seller is in fact very rude to mention the name of mr. Wagner, because it was the collection of this mr Wagner which was stolen a couple of years ago, in this collection was a genuine Heinke 'Harbour' helmet. Two men were arrested on the suspicion of the theft ( a German father and a son, the mother is from Poland ) The stolen Heinke helmet has never been found back but this father and son are now selling exact replica's of this helmet with the only differences that their helmets have a Siebe Gorman company badge on it ( made of copper, which is wrong: the real ones are made of brass ) And the side windows have a grill mounted in them.


This father and son have been selling fake diving helmets since '30 years' and supplied large quantities to a dealer here in Holland ( xxxxxxx ) This dealer had a meeting with the father and son the morning after the theft of mr Wagners collection, and now the german court of justice wants to hear him as a witness, this is important to come to a conviction of this father and son. The theft was 3 years ago, twice a court meeting was scheduled, and twice 'xxxxxxx' called the court one day before he should have been there telling them 'that he could not make it to Germany' ( wife was ill, busy at work etc. ) And the case was postponed. I am convinced that xxxxxxx is just scared that he has to answer to questions he prefers to remain silent about ( his own dealing with the suspected thieves ) and the sad result is that these thieves keep on selling copies of helmets stolen from mr Wagner ...


I don't know what I can write down any more to assist you in getting your money back through PayPal, just let me know. Maybe you can send a link to my website to PayPal where this story is explained in detail(?)


I don't know what the name of the seller is you bought that helmet from but the name of the father and son who sold these helmets here in Europe is 'xxxxxxxxx'.


I wish you good luck, lets stay in touch.


Best regards,

David


Thanks David – thank you very much for taking the time to respond to me - this just shores up our case.  We have already disputed the transaction with Paypal and are getting all our facts straight so that we can escalate to a claim.  We will definitely give Paypal the link to your website.  

The seller calls himself “Sebastian” but I doubt this is his name.

anyway – I will definitely let you know how things pan out.

Thanks again so much for your help

cheers

Steve Craig


Steve,


May I publish your letter on my website? To keep the people alert.


Thanks.


Best regards,

David


Hi David – sorry I haven’t replied sooner – had a weekend away for work this weekend.  We are more than happy for you to publish our letter on your website. 


( this email was much longer but I have been asked to be discrete about the contains until things have been settled. The complete email will be published as soon as I get a green light from Stephen DD )


Thanks also for your assistance to me – it is greatly appreciated to have genuine people out there trying to prevent such scams.

 

Bye for now David and I will keep you informed.

kindest regards

Steve Craig

Monday September 17 - 2012. News Update ‘Fake helmets are still sold’

This email reached me today:


Your guys with the french license plate are here!

 

Please call me  0049-172-XXXXXXX

 

XXXXX XXXX

 

Hotel XX XXXXXX

www.XXXXX.XX

 

( on request of the informant his identity has been protected )



My reply that same day:


Hello XXXXX,


I suggest you don't buy any of their goods. When you have the opportunity to take photographs of what they offer then please do so. 


I only 'warn' people for fraud but I am not a policeman: there is nothing I can do with the sellers apart from alerting the collectors society.


Thanks for your email anyway.


Best regards,

David



The next day:


Hi David

 

 

Well, they came in asked for two hotel rooms…..then they offered me some “antique” decoration parts…..I didn’T see them…I just know those people comeing in telling stories and then offering you some things……. I was warned by their behavior…..

 

I got their names, maybe fake…I don’t know…

 

Then I put the license plate 250 BVL 83  into google and google showed up your page….

 

I called our local police and told what happened   (meanwhile the two asked for a telephone book and they called some 200-300 locals offering their stuff)

 

Police said there is nothing  they can to because no one yet have complained against them……

 

The have paid their dinner and also the rooms in advance…….

 

Unless they do not steel my TV flat screens……

 

Sorry I can’t do more at the moment….

 

Btw the name they told me is Jörg Rxxxxxxxx  from    Saint Raphael (France)

 

I don’t know if the name is fake or not….they paid cash, I have not asked for an ID….

 

You can tell their name anyone who asks, but please do not put my name, company or even city on your website…..you can forward my email to anyone who asks…..


 

XXXXX

Sunday September 23 - 2012. News Update: a warning on facebook by Kees de Helmduiker

Kees de Helmduiker

Fake helmets offered in Holland.

Beware! There's a person, travelling in a German registered Mercedes Van trying to sell a Siebe, a Draeger, a Miller Dunn II and a Milelr Dunn III helmets and other nautical items in Holland. He offered them for 2800 euro a piece and dropped the price to 2000 euro. He tells the equipment comes from a collactor who has passed away. The equipment seems like new.

‘DiveScrap’Index

the scrapbook of diving history

Earlier correspondence and articles are placed in the chapters of the helmets involved

Thursday December 13 - 2012. News Update: a reproduction diving helmet on ebay.

Since 10 years around now one showed up on ebay. The fittings resemble Korean diving helmets but the badge on this helmet pretends quite a different back ground: Kelvinn Bottomley & Bario of London. That name sounds impressive but the helmet is a reproduction ...

A Korean style diving helmet with a badge pretending quite a different back ground: Kelvinn and Bottomley & Bario of London. This company never existed but sounds a lot like the company name ‘Kelvin Bottomley & Baird’ and these were makers of nautical instruments ... but never made any diving helmets ...

To see more photographs of this helmet click the image

Monday February 25 - 2013. News Update: a reproduction diving helmet on ebay.

This helmet was put up for sale by the owner of a dive shop in Regensburg, Germany in August 2012. The helmet was sold to a collector in Austria who identified it as a reproduction and since he paid with PayPal he informed ebay about the scam and was paid back his money. Now this same helmet has been put up for sale by a seller which seems to be registered in Villach, Austria. This seller has been informed by several members that the helmet is a fake but he has not changed the description with the ebay listing ... Very sad to see again someone turning ‘bad’ after having bought a fake helmet ... Don’t buy this piece of junk, and when you did buy it then ask your money back through ebay(!)

To see more photographs of this helmet click the image

Update February 25 2013:


Due to the fact that an important witness from Holland has kept calling off his appearance only 1 or 2 days before the case would be trailed in Freising there still has not been a trial(!) All people involved are waiting since 4 years now, and in the mean while the ‘important witness from Holland’ rather uses the fact that he is needed in this case to put pressure on the other people involved then that he is willing to actually solve this matter. To anyone who really know this dutch dealer this is clearly a sign that he has ‘more things to hide’. In the mean while the helmets which were reproduced from the original stolen one do keep showing up ‘everywhere’ ( Germany, Holland, Denmark, England, Australia, Austria etc. ) leaving a sad trace through the collectors society ...


Update November 3 2014: Please click HERE

Wednesday March 6 - 2013. News Update: a reproduction diving helmet on ebay.

This helmet was put up for sale on ebay in Germany. Don’t buy this piece of junk, and when you did buy it then ask your money back through ebay(!)

With its serial number of 19336 this helmet has the highest number in the lot of these fake helmets we found ( so far ... )  Click the photograph to learn more about this reproduction helmet

November 3 2014: An important update concerning the stolen helmet collection from Germany was placed in the chapter ‘Siebe Gorman Utility made in Poland’ Please click HERE for direct access Siebe_Gorman_Utility_made_in_Poland.html

Tuesday June 11 - 2015. News Update: what if you use a fake helmet for diving?

First of all: the Fake Helmet Alert chapter is meant for reproduction diving helmets which are being sold as genuine diving helmets only. This website has absolutely no problem with any Indian copper worker who manufactures these shiny high polished decoration pieces, often at 1/5 or 2/3 of the size of a genuine helmet which can never been taken for a genuine helmet. 


A well respected HDS member from Germany recently provided me with a set of photographs which show a helmet with the Dräger logo stamped in its breastplate, the helmet was damaged and he asked me if I know a workshop where such a helmet could be repaired. I was very much surprised that an HDS member asked me this because to me it was quite clear that the helmet is a fake. And this is exactly why I am convinced that it is important to keep warning divers, collectors and the historical diving society for such fake helmets because apparently even the people who are supposed to recognize a fake do not always spot one. What could happen when someone takes such a helmet into the water believing he uses a genuine helmet?

Since many years fraudulent dealers sell helmets like the one at the photographs here above as genuine diving equipment. They will tell you great stories about the history of the equipment and guarantee to you that it is genuine. The helmet shown was given the logo of a well respected manufacturer of diving equipment: Drägerwerk, Lübeck. The surface of the copper and brass were artificially aged to give it a genuine ‘look’. The valves in the helmet look genuine but I wonder if they are functional, even an air duct is nicely installed and the helmets interior is painted white and then ‘aged’. What could happen when you trust such a helmet for a dive can be seen at the photo’s here below: this helmet was luckily not used for diving, the damage happened during the shipping of the helmet. When you look at the quality of the soldering then you see that the 3 bolt rings are attached with a few tiny drops of soldering only, and not over the entire surface where the copper of the bonnet and breastplate ’touch’ the inside of the neck rings. Instead a genuine helmet would be soldered all the way and the copper rim would be nicely worked into the brass three bolt ring. Imagine what could happen when someone uses the helmet for diving and the bonnet comes loose like this ... When diving with it, the buoyancy of the bonnet can rip it off the 3 bolt flange from either the bonnet or the breastplate. And depending on the exact constellation of the further equipment this could result in the diver being left without coms or an air supply ... and with the weights hanging on his breastplate ...

Many of us had high hopes for a good outcome of a criminal case in Germany in 2014. German dealers had been caught when selling helmets stolen from the collection of a well known German compressor dealer. Some of the stolen helmets were never found back but reproductions of these helmets were also sold by the same dealers who claimed these were genuine diving helmets. A notorious Dutch dealer of diving equipment managed to keep the court case postponed and delayed for almost 5 years(!) because on one hand he was needed as a witness and on the other hand he had been doing business with these German dealers since over 30 years. Only after the German police came to Holland to interrogate this dealer the court case could finally take place bringing great disappointment to all people involved except the criminals which were released with a conviction to pay the costs of the court case only. The entire story can be read HERE


Does it take people to drown with a fake helmet first before fraudulent dealers really get convicted? What if they had been selling other kinds of equipment where a human life depends on like parachutes or airbags? Would they still be allowed to walk away with a conviction of paying the costs of the court case only? Or would they be condemned for attempt manslaughter or worse?


Last but not least: I wish I could mention the criminals involved in this matter by name but in the past I have received offensive emails and even a registered letter threatening to sue me for libel and slander from the Dutch dealer who seems be at least involved with the fraud in Germany since day 1, quite possibly he even initiated it. Also did 2 German criminals visit me and my family here at home last year after having pretended they were new come collectors of diving equipment looking for a helmet. Right after they had left I found out that the keys of our house were missing, and much later we received phone calls from them where they revealed their true identity: it were the Dutch dealer’s German friends who were involved with the theft of the collection of diving helmets. They revealed their true identity a few days before their case came to court and I can assure you that such things are quite intimidating and not good (at all) good for my family life (I have a wife and 2 children) So I won’t take this matter to a new level (by revealing names etc.) but I do feel obliged to keep sending out warnings to the society and I will keep publishing articles on my website about any new facts.   David L.Dekker

Wednesday July 8 - 2015. Fake Morse 5 bolt helmet on ebay

I had not noticed it myself but a concerned and knowledgeable source in America informed me that this rare A J Morse 5 bolt helmet was in fact born with the standard interrupted thread neck rings, and more recently butchered and rebuilt with modern reproduction 5 bolt neck rings by a known US diving equipment dealer. The serial numbers in the neck rings were also stamped within the last few years. A total scam with the ruin of an authentic helmet. Why? Well, a standard Morse sells for around $5000 and a (genuine) 5 bolt for around $10000 ...