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Urs Hillebrand


Not long ago I noticed a Soundhouse Tapes EP for sale on an internet auction. The Soundhouse Tapes was Iron Maiden's first ever released recording, and since only 5,000 were made it has become the holy grail for Iron Maiden collectors. Needless to say, I was interested to see one for sale, so I placed a bid and ended up winning the item. The price of $130 U.S. was great for an original Soundhouse Tapes – in near mint condition they can sell in the $200 – $300 range. So I was quite happy as I sent away the money.

Several weeks later I received the package in the mail. Both the cover and vinyl were in great condition, and nothing had been damaged in transit. But something seemed strange about this Soundhouse Tapes... something wasn't quite right. So I took out another Soundhouse Tapes from my collection (my prized autographed one) and compared it with the one that had just arrived.

Sure enough, there were slight differences. The biggest difference was the new one's cover, which opened from the side rather than the top. The cardboard was a bit lighter than it should have been, and the colour was a slightly lighter shade of orange. An extremely careful comparison revealed that the cover artwork was a tiny bit blurrier than the original too.

The vinyl also had some slight differences. The colour of the center was a slightly lighter shade of orange, and many of the markings in the run-off area were missing altogether. There was no longer any doubt that the new Soundhouse Tapes was a clever forgery and I had been scammed.

I immediately emailed the seller, a Mr. Urs Hillebrand of Glattbrugg, Switzerland, and politely explained the situation. I suggested two acceptable courses of action:

  1. I could return the forgery for a full refund.
  2. He could reimburse me $100, and I would keep the forgery in my collection, since it makes an interesting comparison with the original.

Since I had no way to know if Mr. Hillebrand was aware that he had sold me a forgery, I was careful to be friendly and polite. But he has completely ignored my email, leading me to suspect that he did intentionally rip me off. It was a clever forgery, and he no doubt expected me not to know the difference. Doubtlessly most people wouldn't have known. Since Mr. Hillebrand lives in Europe and I live in the U.S.A., there is nothing I can do to recover my money. What I am left with is a fake Soundhouse Tapes worth maybe $20 as a curiosity, and a bit more wisdom about being more careful in online trading.

In the hope that I can help a few people to avoid getting scammed like this, I will give a few details about the genuine Soundhouse Tapes.


Cover sleeve: Heavy cardboard/paper, opens from the top
  Click here for scans of the front & back cover and vinyl centers.
Vinyl Run-off etchings: Side 1: *EG*
LYN 7627-IT   (very light)
  Side 2: *EG*
LYN 7628-IT   (very light)


If you ever see a Soundhouse Tapes for sale, you might want to double-check these details. You could still get scammed, but possibly you could save yourself a few hundred dollars. If you are wise, you will not buy anything from this person:

As for Mr. Hillebrand, I personally pity him. This type of person is never truly happy – they go through life always looking for the next scam, and always looking over their shoulders wondering when they are going to be found. He does not need punishment from me, his wretched life will punish him far more than I ever could.

3rd February 1999



    I have done much trading on the Internet, both by auction and by direct personal contacts. In all my interactions, this is the first time that anyone has ever been dishonest with me. Most internet traders are friendly and carefully honest, so don't let my experience scare you away from online trading – instead, learn to be careful and to ask the right questions. With care, the internet is a great place for collectors to find items which otherwise might be impossible to obtain.

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