Home News Stories 2005 July "Operation Bullpen" Slam Dunks Sports/Celebrity Memorabilia Fraud
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"Operation Bullpen" Slam Dunks Sports/Celebrity Memorabilia Fraud

Hey, Wanna Buy a Baseball Autographed By...Mother Teresa?
“Operation Bullpen” Slam Dunks Sports/Celebrity Memorabilia Fraud


Bed of pickup truck filled with baseball bats and jerseys

We’re delighted to showcase yesterday’s press conference in San Diego that updates you on our ongoing, national investigation of forgers and counterfeiters who specially prey on fans. All told, 63 persons charged and convicted; 18 forgery rings dismantled; tens of thousands of forged baseballs, basketballs, you name it seized.

And we’re equally delighted to announce that, with our partners in law enforcement, sports, and business, thousands of contraband baseballs, bats, and basketballs—scrubbed clean of the forgeries—were presented at the press conference to kids in organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, Special Olympics, Crime Victims Fund, and the It’s All About the Kids Foundation.

It’s a classic win-win situation. But we want to spread the word well beyond San Diego on how YOU can keep from getting cheated.

In the market for that special autographed photo of your favorite celebrity...or a baseball bat signed by Steve Carlton? Let the buyer beware:

Baseball bulletTry to get the signatures in person—either at an event where they’re performing or at an event where they’re signing.

Baseball bulletBuy from companies that get witnessed-based signings and that document the authenticity. Major League Baseball, for example, has a program that uses Deloitte and Touche as the witnessing agent with tamper-proof holograms affixed to items that are uniquely numbered and tracked in a database. The point is that these programs establish a chain of custody that ensures you’re getting what you want...and guarantees its value. Many companies offer this program, you just have to ask.

Baseball bulletIf options one and two are not possible, aggressively question the seller about the exact history of the item you want to buy...and be completely comfortable that you are dealing with an honest broker. We’ve talked to a lot of convicted forgers and they say that they really don’t like being asked to explain the provenance of their forgeries. ALWAYS ASK FOR A MONEY BACK GUARANTEE AND A RECEIPT.

Baseball bulletGet your items evaluated by professional authenticators. And we don’t mean the bogus authenticators that convicted forgers set up to hide behind. Even independent, legitimate authenticators can be fooled from time to time, but they are your best bet to keep from being cheated.

Baseball bulletLast but not least—and you know this: If the price is too good to be true, your treasure is probably a forgery. Like those three baseballs we found “autographed” by Mother Teresa...

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