I received this letter from Koetsu's US distributor regarding the perils of buying Koetsu cartridges from "gray market" resellers.
KOETSU BUYER BEWARE
Recently, Koetsu has received numerous inquiries about so-called “new” and “cheap” Koetsu phono cartridges being offered from Web sites in Hong Kong, Florida and places in between. Even some audiophile forums carry information about such dealers. It is time to debunk these fraudulent dealers for the benefit of the public.
A dealer from Hong Kong, for example, is advertising a new Koetsu Signature Platinum cartridge for $3,750, including shipping. An authentic Signature Platinum cartridge lists for $5,900. Upon communicating with the seller and checking the serial number we obtained, we found the number corresponds to a cartridge manufactured in 2004 that was originally sold to a dealer in Tokyo four and a half years ago. At best this is a used cartridge; at worst, a rebuilt Black Market unit that is not even a genuine Koetsu.
I am concerned that our customers are being cheated, and will unfairly judge true Koetsu products based on counterfeits of unknown origin. Most buyers can't readily tell the difference between a genuine and a counterfeit Koetsu. In fact, only inspection by a qualified Koetsu technician can truly tell them apart. The main issue is whether customers are getting what they pay for, not the ease of the sale (a point some Koetsu consumers buying from fraudulent sources have mentioned on audiophile forums). Customers shouldn’t judge dealers and the products they buy by the smoothness of their transactions.
Koetsu takes great care and pride in offering its products only through a very few extremely professional distributors. We give our customers every guarantee they will not find bona-fide Koetsu products at “too good to be true prices” in China or anywhere in the world. Buyers beware.