Re-posted from Duty Free Cigars – They are a trustworthy vendor and great to do business with.
How to spot a Counterfeit or Fake Cuban Cigars
A green and white warranty seal should be visible on the left front side of box. The seal’s color can range from forest to lime-green inside the seal is an insignia that contains a shield with a hat resting on top. The fold line of the seal should run directly through the center of the shield. On the box’s upper right corner should be a white Habanos sticker, pasted diagonally. The box should look in neat and clean condition, free of smudges and scuff marks or dull in color.
On the bottom of box you will find a Habanos heat stamp. Make sure it is a heat stamp impressed into the box and not an ink stamp. Below this heat stamp will be a factory code stamp in an ink color (usually green, blue or black). This tells you the factory where the cigars were rolled and the date.
RED FLAG CHECKLIST
*Websites that always stock limitada Edicions from 2000 and onwards such as Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas that are always in stock at really cheap prices.
* Never stock smaller ring guage brands. Check brands such as Cuaba, Fonseca, Jose L. Piedra, La Flor de Cano, Por Larranaga, Rafael Gonzales always listed but never in stock! *Never have a selection of brands in tubes or 3 and 5 packs
*Never stock Minis,Clubs and Puritos sizes.
*Websites that have Swiss address but their prices are so much less than the majority of websites based in Switzerland.
*Toll free numbers that end up being answered by outsource centers in Costa Rica or seems to be answered at the same call center for different Cuban cigar websites.
Here is the list of known suspects:
Upon opening the box pull back the flap, and smell the tobacco. The fragrance should be pleasing, with a rich, deep aroma. The cigars should be uniform in both colour and shape. The top face of the cigar may appear flattened, or what is known as box-pressed. This is particularly true for torpedo shape. The caps should look identical, all resting at an equal distance from the top of the box. The foot of the cigar should be cut clean and straight, and the bands should be identical and aligned perfectly.
On the top and bottom row of cigars there should be a small strip of wax paper running across the bands. Next pull a cigar out of box and feel it, by holding between your thumb and forefinger. Press together down the whole length of the cigar, it should feel firm and even (not a hard spot and then a soft spot). This is always a dead giveaway that the cigars are counterfeit.
New Habanos SA authenticity warranty seal verification for 2009 onwards:http://www.habanos.com/Sellos/Info/VerificaSelloCajon
IMPORTANT NOTICE NEW CUBAN WARRANTY SEAL.
As a way to keep all Habanos lovers as well as our Exclusive Distributors updated all over the world, it’s necessary to notify the changes to be occurred as regards as to the Cuban Warranty Seal.
From now on, a new Warranty Seal will be gradually introduced in all the packaging where two new elements are to be added. On the right hand, a hologram as a security item will be added and on the left hand, next to the Cote d´ Arms, a bar code will personalize every package.
This label will always be placed from the upper left side of the box or display, leaving 3 to 6 mm from the edge and to be bending up to the front right over the center of the Cote d´Arms whenever possible.
This Seal has been developed through a base of synthetic paper with special characteristics such as an auto-destructive feature before any attempts of removal and with several maximum security techniques added.
• Tamper-evident label. Any attempt to remove it, will cause invalidation of the seal by self destruction.
• Highly adherence of the paper (plastic) Auto-destructive, Self-destructive.
• Scan and Photocopy Protected System.
• The holographic band will show a bi-color text in 2nd and 3rd dimension.
• Elements with optical variations attached.
• Microdot only visible through laser scanner.
On the other hand, a unique bar code will be applied on every single box thus customizing every packaging. This information will be saved in a data base allowing the identification of this product everywhere, whom this product was addressed to as well as the Invoice number, amongst other details.
The fact is that there will always be a time in which both old and new Warranty Seals designs will exist at the same time in the markets. The length of time in which the two seals will coexist is not so easy to foresee because it depends on the stocks and on the rotation of the different products.
As a reference please find attached here a file of the aforementioned seal and the proper way of affixing it on the boxes, in jpg format.