Fine violins do not have serial numbers, but they do typically have a label inside identifying the maker and frequently the year and location where the violin was made. Many violin makers, or luthiers[i] as they are known, like to copy well-known instruments, sometimes even down to the label inside the instrument, and the most famous violin maker, Antonio Stradivari, is also the most frequently copied.
Usually, the luthiers do not try to pass their Stradivari copies off as originals. Even if they were to try to do so, the instrument’s age and sound quality of the copies usually would fall far short of a Stradivari and give them away.
Where there is a question regarding the origin of an old violin, modern technology provides additional tools, such as chemical analysis of varnish and dating of the wood, which can further aid in distinguishing genuine violins from famous makers from copies. Yet, identification of old instruments remains as much art and conventional detective work as it does science.
Unfortunately, in the banking world, fakes may not be as easy to detect. Many title and escrow companies have started putting warnings on their e-mails, which read something like this:
Online banking fraud is on the rise. If you receive an email containing Wire Transfer Instructions call your escrow officer immediately to verify the information prior to sending funds.
The National Association of Realtors has recommended that its members include the following language on their e-mail signature lines: