CARY, N.C. — A Cary youth is going into his 17th year waiting to find out if he’ll get $1,000 back for a fake guitar he bought or a life lesson in “buyer beware.”
Jonathan Jakubowski paid $1,000 for what was billed as a Les Paul-model Gibson electric guitar. That was a bargain because they usually sell for three times that much.
“My mom, she saw the ad for the guitar in the paper,” Jakubowski said Thursday.
After he had paid Steven Sexton of Lillington and had his guitar, however, he started doing some Internet research on Les Pauls, named for the famous guitar designer.
“The plastic on the back wasn't right. This nut right here was made wrong,” Jakubowski said, though he had to point to parts on the Fender Stratocaster he had been playing and that he is playing again now. The secretary of state’s office has his not-really-a-Les-Paul guitar as evidence.
Investigators arrested Sexton, 48, last week. He faces two felony counts of criminal use of a counterfeit trademark, following an investigation by the North Carolina Secretary of State's Trademark Enforcement Section. He has a court date next month.
The state seized five guitars when agents arrested Sexton, and Jakubowski’s and another customer’s are part of the evidence, too.
“I say, if somebody can make it, somebody else can fake it,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said. She added that “a lot of fakes in this world come from countries with incredibly cheap labor.”
In the case of the fake Les Paul guitars, that was China.
Jonathan turned 16 on Thursday, and he is both older and wiser than he was when he bought the guitar for which he had saved.
“If I get my money back, then cool. If not, life lesson learned,” he said.