Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sports Memorabilia Safeguards

There are hundreds of sports memorabilia companies attempting to stake claim to the high demand of the sports memorabilia market. If you search Google or Yahoo, you will receive probably millions of hits to choose from.

Interest in sports related items have grown tremendously over the last few years. This ranges from autographed sports memorabilia to unautographed sports-related items including baseballs, footballs, basketballs, photos, pucks and jerseys. Some of these items can literally costs thousands of dollars. Most of these items are considered investments as they could increase in value when athletes become more well-known, be inducted into the Hall of Fame, appear in championship games, retire, die, etc.

With so many companies vying for your business, and so many individuals craving these items, there is bound to be businesses designed specifically to fraud the consumer. Recently, a San Diego federal judge sentenced several sports autograph forgers to prison. The judge stated, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of the national pastime, has been undone." This court trial stemmed from a FBI investigation known as "Operation Bullpen". This investigation consisted of 60 search warrants, 2 dozen individuals arrested, and a warehouse with 10 million dollars worth of forged merchandise seized. This was a professional criminal organization that sold forged autographs to unbeknownst consumers. Can you imagine how much 10 million dollars worth of inventory is? If they had that much in inventory, how much did they sell. Unfortunately, the majority of these items are probably still out there and the owners are unaware that they have a fraudulent item.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney (Phil Halpren) who prosecuted the case stated that fraud is so pervasive in the sports memorabilia market. He claims that odds are greater than 50% that your memorabilia is fake unless you actually observed the athlete sign the item. He also commented, "If you are looking at a Mark McGuire signature, it's almost a guarantee, 99.9% it is a forgery." It should be known that Certificates of Authenticities can also be fabricated just as easily as the autographed item itself.
The most well respected sports memorabilia companies are fighting this fraud by implementing more security measures on their autographed stock. One of these security measures is the hologram. These holograms are encrypted with the item's indentifying information and package seals. Obviously, your most sophisticated forgers can still produce holographic images that appear to genuine upon casual inspection. However, the major companies are implementing more sophisticated anti-forgery systems to combat these criminals. Some of these companies are also providing photos and/or video of the signing itself.

What can consumers do to mitigate their chances of becoming victims of these thugs? First of all, consumers must use some common sense when purchasing anything whether it is from the Internet or from a retail store. If it is too good to be true, then it is probably a fake and is too good to be true. Do some research with several companies that sell authentic autographed memorabilia and determine what the market price is for a particular item. If the fair market value averages to $1,000, don't buy the exact item that is selling for $200. More than likely, the $200 item is going to be fraudulent. This dollar amount is well below the market value of the item.

If the consumer wants to buy an item that was signed by a legend that played in the early 1900's and was signed during that time, be aware of what type of writing utensil was used during the signing. Obviously, if the item was signed with a Sharpie pen, then the item is a fake as there were no Sharpie pens during this time.

During the trial and investigation mentioned above, Phil Halpren commented, "I have seen Babe Ruth balls signed on a Bobby Brown American League President ball. So, you know, he was president in the early 80's. That's impossible to have been done. But someone did it." In other words, be aware of the type of product that was present during the lifetime of the athlete.

Be very careful and only purchase from reputable dealers. The top sports memorabilia companies includes the likes of Steiner Sports, Upper Deck Memorabilia, Locker Room Memorabilia, Schwartz Sports, and Superstar Greetings. These companies do have contracts with several "resellers". These resellers are allowed to sale the memorablia at a price lower then the retail value (at times), however, they have to follow MAP guidelines. Basically, this means that the items can not be sold below a certain price. If these companies catch one of their resellers selling below the MAP guideline, they can revoked their reseller contract. These companies use holographic images and some use a numbering system in order for it to be identified later.
AAA Sports Memorabilia is one of those authorized resellers. Our Authentic Autographed Sports Memorabilia items come directly from the sources above. Each and every item has been authenticated by the above companies and come with Certificate of Authenticities. Our items are guaranteed for life to be authentic. If for any reason, your item is declared to be non-authentic, your money is returned in its entirety. We trust these companies as they have been around for many years and they are well known for their contributions to the sports memorabilia field. They will not risk their status by providing fraudulent memorabilia.

Before you invest, do some research. If you have any questions, please contact us at cs@aaasportsmemorabilia.com. Check our blog for additional information regarding the authentication process for some of the top sports memorabilia companies.

You are welcome to visit our store at www.AAASportsMemorabilia.com to view the authentic autographed sports and Hollywood memorablia that we have available. We currently have thousands of items to choose from. We also have access to thousands more items and are not able to display all of them on our website. If you have a particular item you are looking for and can't find it on our website, please contact us and we can advise if we have that item available.
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