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Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by likaleica, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    Avoid an eBay camera dealer called sebsandiego. He sold me a "1937 Contax II" described as in excellent condition. When the shutter broke a couple of weeks later sebsandiego refused to compensate me - but worse was to follow.
    I sent the camera to a Contax repair expert (who wishes to remain anonymous). He rang me back immediately to break the news that the camera sebsandiego had sold me was fake. It was an early Kiev, with its engraving rolled out and Contax engraved in its place. A false Zeiss Ikon logo had been embossed into the leather on the camera back, a plain unengraved accessory shoe fitted and false F prefix serial numbers engraved in the correct places inside the camera.
    I have paid £135 for a worthless, useless camera but
    sebsandiego has failed to respond to my demands for my money back.
    Giving sebsandiego the benefit of considerable doubt, he may not have known the camera was fake - though as a dealer he should have done. But sebsandiego's complete failure to take any responsibility or give me my money back speaks volumes for his total disregard for his customers.
    Zeiss Historica have been alerted to this fake by the repairer and photos have been sent to them.
    I wonder if any other forum members have experience of Contax fakes or indeed of sebsandiego ?
  2. Tacitus

    Tacitus Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry to hear that. Obviously you'll want to contact EBay/Paypal, as they say they offer some level of support in such cases - though the reality may be somewhat different. Also see what your credit card company has to say (presuming you used PayPal). Talk to Consumer Direct too, though I believe they are generally not much help on EBay matters.

    If it was a 'Buy Now' purchase you would have been covered by the Distance Selling Regulations, except these are difficult to apply to rogue traders and you need to reject the items pretty smartly (and not send them for repair since that could be considered as "acceptance" of the goods).

    It seems to me that much vintage Contax gear offered on EBay is potentially dubious, and this is particularly difficult to spot in the meagre photos and descriptions. Personally I'd leave all older Contax gear well alone unless it's offered by an original owner, who provides a name, address and phone number, etc.

    Finally, is the camera repaired? If it is, then I gather that a good Kiev is potentially still a good camera ... but that may be little consolation.

    Bad luck, but good luck ... AC
  3. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    So, have you filed a complaint under eBay's procedures. You won't get all your money back but you'll get a fair chunk of it. Are you also posting negative feedback?
  4. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately I bought the camera outside of eBay when the original auction "winner" mysteriously quit as an eBay member without completing the transaction. So I do not have any comeback through eBay unless I report sebsandiego for trading outside eBay. Paypay are not interested because it was over their 45 days limit for claiming by the time I'd discovered the camera was fake. I will try Consumer Direct but I have only a hotmail account address for sebsandiego - nothing else.

    The expert I sent it to does not repair Kievs. I could send it to Oleg Khalyavin in Russia.....but then would have racked up about £200 on a camera worth almost nothing.
    I am particularly cross because I bought the camera to give to my elderly father as a Christmas present after his trusty 1937 Contax was stolen in a burglary.

  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    If it's an old enough Kiev, it could be worth a fair bit more than a Contax II...
  6. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    An interesting suggestion - but I would imagine that the fake Contax engraving and the lack of proper Kiev serial numbers would severely damage its potential value as an old Kiev. But maybe I am wrong....
  7. Tacitus

    Tacitus Well-Known Member

    Sebsandiego is one of many EBay sellers who do not operate as an EBay "registered business seller", but as a private individual, even though he/they sell really quite large numbers of items, and clearly make not insubstantial earnings that way.

    Private sellers, particularly in EBay auctions, appear not to have any obligations to disclose contact information. However, under EBay rules, business sellers must display their full contact details and sign-up to a fair trading agreement - see the Ebay Know Your Rights Page if you haven't already found it.

    I often wonder whether HM Customs & Revenue would be interested in such "private" EBayers, since in principle aren't they liable to pay Income Tax on their EBay earnings if they reach a certain level? ....... .T.
  8. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    Some sound advice here - thanks to everyone who has participated. I will certainly alert the tax people. Working on getting hold of a mailing address for him at present so I can serve a county court summons. I know I haven't lost a fortune but it is the principle of it that motivates me. And I could have bought a couple of decent lenses with that money for my (genuine) 1938 Contax III !
  9. zuiko

    zuiko Well-Known Member

    I don't if Trading Standards would be interested, if he is selling fake gear and other people have ben ripped off it would be easier to prove dishoensty.

  10. sebsandiego

    sebsandiego New Member

    Hello everybody,

    I’m sebsandiego, the GENUINE, VAT registered, business eBay seller.

    Nothing hidden about me, you can read the eBay ‘’me’’ page.

    I’ve just found out about this forum from a friendly eBayer [thanks GOD, there still are plenty of them]

    I can only say that neither Mr Simon, nor his ‘’expert’’ has got ANY clue about Contax cameras.

    I’ve sold many of them and to the BEST of my knowledge they are genuine, only a novice could not see the difference between a fake and a genuine Contax, the same applies to copies of Leica made from Zorkis. Please, note that I’m in a minority, as far as the quality and size of photos of an item being sold are concerned. I spend a lot of time taking them, they are 150% of a life size, so better illustrated than when held in a hand!

    It is a very interesting thing, that this camera, even if it hypothetically was a fake, has been used for so many years and suddenly broke in his hands by the fist shot, curious……

    Everybody knows that full time eBay sellers as me, cannot afford to sell fakes – I’d not last very long.

    As Simon mentions, he bought this camera being offered to him with a discount outside of eBay, when the winning bidder was unable to complete the transaction, so the very same item was listed on eBay, so it should be obvious, I have not listed a fake, I could not!

    Anybody is welcome to ask any questions in case of doubts.

    Best regards to every reader,

  11. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    This camera has been verified as a fake by a leading UK based Contax II expert and by another Kiev/Contax expert based in Russia. It was made from an early Kiev and given false 1937 serial numbers to look like a Contax II. It is a good fake - but a fake nonetheless, worth a few quid - and it cost me over £130. I can provide the invoice for the shutter repair if there is any doubt that it broke.

    Sebsandiego has refused to take any responsibility for selling a fake camera or to compensate me for the rip off. Draw your own conclusions about how genuine this man is from his disgraceful behaviour.
  12. FujiSigmaNolta

    FujiSigmaNolta Well-Known Member

    ...so much so that he is bothering with a post in a forum. I bet he is searching the net for posts just like yours, his sales must have gone down like the Titanic for him to take this kind of measure.

    I didn't know that because an item is listed on Ebay it constitutes definite proof that that's what the buyer got. Some strange logic indeed. I've sure drawn my conclusions thanks more to Sebsandiego's reactions than the poster of this thread. :D
  13. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    Well said and thanks for your support.

    I should add that I e mailed Sebsandiego proof positive that the camera is a fake back in December 2007. This consisted of the pictures taken by the UK Contax expert showing the rear of the faked Kiev face plate etc. They clearly showed where "Kiev" had been rolled out and "Contax" engraved - slightly too right of centre than a real Contax in order to hide the residual Kiev impression. They also showed the Kiev style pressing around the film counter which differs from the Contax.
    In all, Sebsandiego was given incontrovertible proof that the camera was a worthless fake and still he has shamefully refused to give me my money back.
    What made this whole episode even worse thas that I bought the camera for my elderly father to replace his treasured mint condition 1937 Contax stolen in a burglary. Fortunately the fake was discovered before I gave it to him and further heartache was avoided.
  14. Gordon_McGeachie

    Gordon_McGeachie In the Stop Bath

    Makes you wonder if the `buyer` who pulled out of the deal did some research and realised it was a fake, or maybe the `buyer` was the seller under another name to try and push up the price...

    who knows?

    Apart from SEBSANDIEGO that is.......
  15. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    As you say, who knows.....it is indeed strange that Sebsandiego purports to be a genuine dealer yet refuses to accept expert proof that a camera he has sold is a fake. Even if he was also taken in by the scam, as a dealer he has a legal duty to avoid selling counterfeit goods. Unfortuantely egal action against him is being hampered because eBay and PayPal (through whom I paid) have refused to give me his address. Thanks very much, eBay/PayPal for your commitment to consumer rights !
    I should also clarify an issue raised in another posting. The pictures on eBay were of this actual camera, not another Contax - so it was not a case of "switch selling". Unfortunately it was such a convincing fake that I did not spot it. One giveaway sign is the relatively inferior rather matt finisb of the chrome compared with a real Contax, immediately spotted by the UK Contax expert and raising the first whiff of suspicion. But in his auctions Sebsandiego invariably cranks up the contrast so high in Photoshop that details like the quality of the chrome finish are comprehensively airbrushed out to make them look better.
    If there is a moral to all this it is don't buy a vintage camera on eBay unless it is an absolute gift and you can afford to take the loss if it turns out to be a dud !
    Having had to repair the camera it now stands me in for almost £200 (body only) and it is worth maybe £20 - £30.
    On that point, Does anyone know if I changed the faceplate to an early "KNEB" and so restored it to early Kiev configuration, it would be worth more than it is as a faked Contax ?
    Thanks for all the correspondence on this - hopefully it will help avoid further rip offs.
  16. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    if it's a very early Kiev, it's probably worth more than a Contax II in any case, and if that were the case, it's far from clear that it would actually be a fake - the situation at the start of Kiev production is pretty muddy. If it's a later one, though, you would simply be compounding fakery.
  17. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member

    Interesting points raised here. I have read that Contax parts were rifled from the Dresden factory at the end of the war and some Contax faceplates rolled out to be engraved "KNEB" back in Russia for early Kiev production.
    But I doubt that the Russians found a 1937 serial number camera in the factory and modified that. Anyway, the serial number engraving on the back looks suspiciously fresh - indicating a recent forgery.
    My conclusion is that this camera is a "bitsa" - the shutter crate (with a knackered shutter) and back are definitely early Kiev. The face plate is later Kiev as it has both the Cyrillic and Arabic "Kiev" engravings still visible on the back. The top plate could be any age as I don't think the design of this changed.

    What I can't fathom is that if an early Kiev is worth more than a Contax - why on earth didn't the forger engrave "KNEB" on the later faceplate, avoid the bother of embossing the ZI logo on the back and falsifying the serial numbers - and make more money ?

    Can anyone help me roughly date this camera ? When were the Kiev faceplate and back designs modified from Contax II style to more closely match the post war Contax ?

    I must add that Oleg Khalyavin has fixed the shutter and CLA'd this camera beautifully. It's quite a joy to use - some consolation in the circumstances!
  18. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Well "rifled" isn't entirely fair - the stock of components and machinery were taken as war reparations, and a number of technicians went with them to assist in setting up. Effectively the first cameras produced were 100% genuine Contaxes in every way, simply made in a different plant. The first Kievs were in every way identical, simply with a different name. After that, there were some modifications in later production, for sure. Incidentally, it was the return of those Zeiss technicians to East Germany that was the catalyst for the production of Werra cameras; in effect it was a project for them to do to occupy them.
  19. Ploy

    Ploy Well-Known Member



    I'm a bit late coming in on this one but... If you can email the pictures to me, I can probably date the camera (or some of the parts, if it's been made up from more than one body).

    Peter Loy
  20. likaleica

    likaleica Well-Known Member


    Just thought I should warn people that the eBay seller "sebsandiego" who sold me the fake Contax and refused to compensate me is now trading under the eBay ID: collecting_photo_gear

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