Forged Sports Memorabilia

Forged Sports Memorabilia



There is​ an​ ever-growing market in​ sport memorabilia, and​ sports-related keepsakes include signed commemorative photos, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, pucks and​ jerseys. a​ Google listing of​ corporations hawking these items produces almost five million business sites! a​ few of​ the​ items on offer cost thousands of​ dollars.

Where there are so many eager and​ gullible customers, con artists are sure to​ show up. a​ San Diego federal judge who recently sentenced many sports autograph forgers to​ prison said, "Life, liberty and​ the​ pursuit of​ the​ national pastime, has been undone". the​ prosecution stemmed from an​ FBI investigation called Operation Bullpen, which closed down a​ professional criminal organization that forged and​ sold sports goods enhanced with bogus autographs. Sixty search warrants were served, more than two dozen forgers arrested, and​ a​ warehouse with ten million dollars worth of​ fake merchandise was seized. the​ ring leaders received three years in​ prison and​ loss of​ assets to​ the​ IRS. Both current and​ faux "antique" items were involved.

Any sports fan who has a​ signed souvenir would be wise to​ question its authenticity. Phil Halpren, the​ assistant federal attorney who worked to​ prosecute the​ forgers, stated that fraud is​ so pervasive in​ the​ sports memorabilia market that unless you personally watch as​ an​ athlete signs an​ item, odds are greater than 50 % that it's forged. Athletes most popular with the​ public are a​ hit with forgers, too. Halpren said, "If you see a​ Mark McGuire signature, it's almost a​ guarantee, 99.9%, it's a​ forgery." Certificates of​ authenticity can be fabricated with as​ much ease as​ the​ collectible item they supposedly validate, so this is​ no protection.

Vendors are fighting back in​ an​ effort to​ maintain the​ integrity of​ the​ market. Disney, which owns ESPN, will commence next year to​ auction signed sports memorabilia online. Disney says it​ will authenticate the​ signatures with holograms encrypted with the​ item's identifying information and​ tamper-proof package seals, videotaping the​ entire process.

Sophisticated forgers can even develop holographic seals which appear real to​ the​ untrained eye. Even so, the​ great majority of​ forgers are amateurs, and​ usually even a​ basic anti-forgery system is​ likely to​ deter them.

Baseball and​ football are the​ most popular sports in​ America, however some famous hockey players like Wayne Gretzky and​ Bobby Orr are popular targets for​ forgery as​ well.

With the​ large selection available, both in​ stores and​ on web sites, fans can avoid a​ lot of​ fraud by applying common sense. for​ instance, a​ baseball autographed by Babe Ruth selling for​ $500 is​ obviously a​ fake, because such a​ cost is​ unbelievably low, too low for​ real market conditons. as​ well, it​ pays to​ know a​ little bit about the​ development of​ baseballs and​ pens. if​ you see baseballs supposedly signed in​ the​ '20s and​ '30s with Sharpie pens, these items are obviously fake, because these pens weren't invented yet in​ that era. to​ quote Phil Halpren : "I have seen Babe Ruth balls signed on a​ Bobby Black American League President ball. So, you know, he was president in​ the​ early '80s. That's impossible to​ have been done. However someone did it."

So, while it's enjoyable to​ have a​ peice of​ sports history to​ call your own, the​ motto to​ follow is​ : buyer beware. Unless you are a​ professional trader who knows how to​ authenticate merchandise, do not acquire an​ item strictly for​ its potential resale value, because you can be disappointed by what you sooner or​ later get back for​ it. Purchase an​ item you personally like and​ intend to​ keep, and​ do not spend thousands of​ dollars. This ensures that you will be happy when you admire your acquisition, without the​ lingering doubt that you have lost a​ massive amount of​ money on something of​ dubious value.




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