These guitars have been selling through e-bay for quite some time. Only recently has there been any kind of publicity about it. One hates to think of any young guitarist losing all their money, thinking they bought a real Les Paul, only to find out it was a plywood fake.
It is not always easy to tell by looking at a small picture if the guitar is fake. To me, the first thing I notice on a modern Gibson is that the fret ends are always covered with the neck binding. Not so on a fake one - the frets go right over the binding and to the edge of the neck. Also, Gibson uses two screws on the truss rod cover. The fakes use three. Most often, the control covers on the back of a real Gibson are brown. Fakes are white or cream.
The links below go into detail about spotting the fakes. I would imagine that the biggest problem is Americans who buy these in bulk, and sell through Craigslist or other classified ads to unsuspecting adults and kids who just want to own the real thing, be it a Fender, Gibson
or PRS. E-bay does not seem to be doing anything about it yet, although I suspect that will change in the near future.
Here are a few links to read about: Modern Guitars, Vintage Rock, Sonic State,
GuitarSite.com, and Free Republic.com