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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 18:35 GMT
Italy arrests 'fake Ferrari' gang
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

Genuine Ferrari car
Genuine Ferraris are a huge status symbol
Anyone who's bought a fake Rolex watch or an imitation Gucci bag will know that from a cursory glance they look like the real thing.

But what about a fake Ferrari?

Italian police say they have smashed a counterfeiting ring in Sicily that produced the ultimate status symbol.

Imitation Ferraris were being sold online at a fraction of the real price - a dream for those who could never afford one.

Pale imitation

Cobbled together with bogus parts and just a few original components, the fake Ferrari would grace any driveway.

To the untrained eye, it is a blood-red, Ferrari classic.

It looks like a 328 GTB that went out of production in the late 1980s.

But on closer examination, it is a pale imitation of the real thing.

The investigation into this ring started in Maranello, where the Ferrari factory is based.

It was done very well, they were very skilled
Guido Geremia
Italian financial police

It led the police to Palermo in Sicily, where the cars were being assembled - but the parts were coming from all around the country.

Fakes sold online

Some of the body parts were moulded from the spares of an American Pontiac.

Once built, they were sold online for $30,000, a fraction of the price of a real Ferrari.

Police have confiscated 21 cars - 14 had already been sold and seven were still in Sicilian garages.

The buyers are all Ferrari enthusiasts who knew they were buying a counterfeit classic - though the documents they possessed were, of course, originals with a few crucial alterations.

So far 15 people have been arrested. The police said they were "very able" body shop mechanics.

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