Recent Release Of Book Reminds Consumers To Be Very Vigilant When Purchasing Sports Memorabilia

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Seven years ago, a quiet cul-de-sac in northeastern Escondido was the capital of the U.S. sports memorabilia forgery market. A new book 'Operation Bullpen: The Inside Story of the Biggest Forgery Scam in American History' chronicles the bust of this forgery ring and reminds everyone interested in sport memorabilia to be aware of the potential for fraud.

Greg Marino is perhaps America's best known forger who spent hours in his parent's one story home perfecting the signatures of almost every famous athlete or celebrity. Marino would complete the forgery and send the items to Wayne Bray of San Marcos, who then shipped the sports memorabilia and other items to retailers across the country.

The scam was successful for over five years where they made millions when they supplied inexpensive, flawless, authenticated autographs to unaware consumers. The scam that included hundreds of sports memorabilia items was brought down in October 1999, when an FBI investigation called Operation Bullpen executed several raids apprehending the key individuals in the operation.

A recently released book by Kevin Nelson called "Operation Bullpen: The Inside Story of the Biggest Forgery Scam in American History" chronicles the activities of the forgers and the FBI.

The book has brought up the age old question about how safe is the autographed sports memorabilia market today. According to Andrew Ryan, owner of Midwest Sports Authentics, it is still vitally important the consumers be vigilant to avoid being scammed.

"Although recent additions to security have helped fortify the process of keeping fraudulent signatures at bay, it is still really important that fans and collectors ensure they are purchasing items from retailers with a stellar reputation and avoid online auction sales where forgeries are prevalent," Ryan explains.

"In fact, I've read that one of the reasons the FBI cooperated on Nelson's book is that they are hoping to reeducate the American public about the fraudulent items, including sports memorabilia, that are still out there."

Millions of dollars is spent annually on sports memorabilia and authenticity is paramount for the item to retain or gain in value. According to Ryan, collectors should try to gather as much information about the signed items that they can get. Ask about where it was signed, when it was signed, were there witnesses and where did the item come from.

According to the FBI's website, the first and probably most telling sign is the price. If a signed sports memorabilia items seems a little low, it is usually a red flag to look elsewhere. The FBI also warns that a photograph of an athlete or celebrity signing an autograph is no guarantee the item is authentic.

Collectors or sports enthusiasts looking for authentic sports memorabilia items should check out the comprehensive selection of authentic items available from Midwest Sports Authentics. They work with only trustworthy and reputable organizations both large and small. A Certificate of Authenticity provided by a partner associated with the company accompanies each item. These partners hold private signing to obtain their memorabilia, in order to guarantee authenticity.

About Midwest Sports Authentics:

At Midwest Sports Authentics, Inc. (MSA), we take pride in working with only trustworthy and reputable organizations both large and small. When you purchase an item from MSA, you will receive a Certificate of Authenticity (COA). The COA is provided by a partner associated with MSA. These partners hold private signings to obtain their memorabilia, in order to guarantee authenticity.


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Andrew Ryan
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