‘Pawn Stars’: Corey Harrison Opened Up on Making Mistakes and Shop Buying Fake Items

by John Jamison

There’s not exactly a manual covering all of the various things people are likely to bring into a pawn shop. Learning where the deals are, what’s real and what’s not—that takes time. Corey Harrison of Pawn Stars fame understands this better than most. For all of the big scores Corey has found over the years, he’s also had his fair share of busts.

People go to a lot of trouble to make convincing fakes for a quick buck. The difference, though, between a successful pawnbroker and a failed one is whether or not they learn from their mistakes.

Corey Harrison of Pawn Stars spoke on the reality of being duped. It’s a matter of when not if. So there are plenty of opportunities to identify the fake stuff, but that knowledge only comes after a few bad losses.

“You know, you just live and learn. That’s kinda how it works. You don’t have a pawn broker school where they teach you that. It’s all trial and error. As many big scores that I’ve gotten, I’ve been burned a lot, too,” Corey told When in Manila in 2017.

‘Pawn Stars’ Boss Rick Harrison Isn’t Exempt from the Occassional Mess Up

Even Rick Harrison, Corey’s dad, an objectively more experienced industry veteran, gets fooled sometimes. But listening to him describe how much effort counterfeiters put into products makes it easy to see how professionals get the wool pulled over their eyes.

“Fifteen years ago, someone spent probably three- or four thousand dollars to make a fake Rolex. And I got burned on that one, so it won’t happen again. Someone bought a 1970s Rolex — a really beat-up one, for $700 or $800. They take the movement out. They got a new Rolex face for it. New Rolex hands. New crystal. Made an 18-karat gold case and band for it. And they were in the watch probably $3- to $4,000. I ended up buying it for $5,000. It’s an entire industry, making fake things,” Rick told NPR in 2011.

Bear in mind, however, that Rick is a second-generation pawn professional. Even the knowledge of his dad, Richard “Old Man” Harrison, isn’t enough to stop the fraudsters in their tracks.

Most of the Harrisons’ Business Outside of the Show is Pawned Goods

If you’ve ever watched Pawn Stars, you know that folks are selling goods 99% of the time, not pawning them. Strange for a pawn shop, don’t you think? But the explanation is pretty simple.

“The people pawning goods never want to be on the show. And the reason behind that is because when people are pawning something, they’re getting a loan and have to admit they’re broke. … When people are selling something, it’s a financial transaction, and it’s just perceived differently,” Rick continued in the 2011 interview.