Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Hate The Culture Of Scams

Ive always taken a firm stance against douchebaggery in this hobby, mainly through outing the scams that I find to be the most detrimental to my overall experience with cards. For some reason, there is an unlimited supply of asshats to join the ranks of people looking to take advantage of others, and knowledge to combat them is at a high premium. Most of this is probably due to lack of coverage in major news sources, time needed to learn about countermeasures, as well as a lackadaisical attitudes by the manufacturers. This is combined with a secondary market that functions both online and in storefronts, thus limiting policing bodies.

That’s not to say that memorabilia in general hasn’t received national attention, as operation bullpen and FBI raids at the national sure completed the picture of who is taking notice. Im just wondering if maybe sports in general takes on more of these scams than with other money making ventures. Is it because Memorabilia is so valuable and easy to fake?

Lets take a look at some of the more recent card scams for evidence, as it has become very easy to fake and make money off of them. With the rookie premiere autographs, as well as the patches in cards that you can cut off of a 10 dollar ebay bought replica jersey, the opportunity cost of scamming people is micro. Its those types of situations that worry me to no end. I could go on the most widely read sports site in the world, post non-stop for a year and still not even make a dent because of the culture created by the bodies who have the ability to police the problems.

Then, when you look at sources like the idiots over at Beckett, who have a pedestal to reach a lot of collectors, they don’t. Instead, they only address this situation when the manufacturers give them the window with a press release or something. They never take the opportunity to inform, as it shows a weakness or vulnerability in collecting, and they are in the business of sounding the "all is well" alarm 24/7/365.

Even places like social media outlets created by the manufacturers have the opportunity to address the sitution, but rarely take that chance. They also don’t want to show the chink in the armor or the weak link in the chain because Its bad for business. Even though places like Panini have offered patch faking countermeasures, nothing is valid until you already own the card. Add in that the quick opinion button for PSA only applies to autographs, and there is nothing to help the general collector to avoid scams.

I have mentioned before that a national photo database is a great idea, but that only will be used by collectors who use internet media for their collecting habits. I think the best thing would be for the manufacturers to utilize an outside service to comb through questionable auctions, and prompt eBay to pull them down. They wont catch them all, but they will catch some.

This does bring us to another huge issue, which is eBay themselves, as they make tons of money off the sellers who sell fakes and get away with it. Each of those final values sends a percentage to eBay's bottom line, and to take those away is taking money out of their pockets. When you factor in that most people don’t avoid ebay despite these things, you have a recipe for disaster.

When it comes down to it, scams are always going to be a part of any commodity that has money making ability. I just wonder why cards continue to be the easiest to thrive in when you are a criminal. Granted, now with mediums like blogs that garner thousands of readers per day, and don’t have to answer to their advertisers, hopefully the weak link will be exposed more. At that point we can begin to repair it, and hopefully we wont have to live in this type of culture for much longer.


  1. Right on! I wish there was a picture data base.
    I hardly ever see examples of frauds/fakes so it's hard for me to know what to look for. I don't buy many high end cards though so I guess I'm not a target often.

  2. The picture database is something that has been kicked around by collectors for more than three years. THAT would be the best way to verify each patch card.

    As collectors, there also is something that we've been telling each other and it never seems to stick in anyone head: If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.

    In this day and age of serial numbering EVERYTHING, do you think a sweet patch would be numbered to anything more than 50 copies?

  3. Sweet patches are frequently numbered higher than 50 copies - SPA, NT, Exquisite are prime examples.

    The ONLY 100% way to combat these jagoffs is with a picture database. Anything less than this and you are already playing catch-up. Ebay is a joke - they can't even get it right when there is undeniable proof staring them in the face.

    This is the single biggest problem in the hobby right now and I don't understand why card companies can't see the potential profit (afterall, this is ALL they care about) that could exist by creating a database and selling monthly/annual subscriptions.

  4. As kickstand54 says, I too often wonder why the card companies don't scan all the patch cards they send out and put them on their websites. It would seem to be easy and would also be a decent reason for traffic to be driven to their site.

    Heck, it also would be a decent starting off point for a marketplace where the owners of each card could put them on the market. Charge the buyer and seller some fee and knock ebay entirely out of the conversation, though that may be a much bigger project than I'm imagining.

  5. Or possibly a class-action lawsuit on eBay, since the seller is committing fraud and eBay, by not doing anything to crack down on the perpetrators, are aiding and abetting a crime.