When it comes to fake anything in this hobby, I get fired up. Fake autos, fake cards, fake patches, they all make my blood boil to a point that I refuse to sit idly by while the douchebags out there try to take advantage of people who don’t know any better. The last (and final) time I went to a show, it got to a point where I had words with at least two of the dealers at the show because their booths were packed with fakes. Not just one or two, but practically whole tables. I cant let that slide, and I even considered contacting the show’s organizer before I found out that the people were good friends. In fact, there are so many fakes in this hobby that the FBI has gotten involved, going as far as travelling to Baltimore and walking the floor. That’s when you know things are terrible rather than just bad or poor.
I read a piece in the daily news about their presence, and that there were even a few people who wanted to start an industry “police force,” or something like that, as a response to their prodding. Although I support the policing of fakes and frauds in our midst, I know that its pointless to create bodies of people who will try to police it. Its one thing when an auction house that sells multi thousand dollar items sells fakes, but its almost impossible to use a broadsword to cut fakes out of places like eBay instead of the scalpel that is needed. Really, there will always be people that sell fakes, because when there is money to be made in a venture, someone will take advantage of it.
Really, what I think is the best idea is to make the databases that PSA and JSA uses available as a searchable site. Offer it as a free service. Put together a roster of signatures from people who are prolifically sold, and let people have a free resource for combatting fakes. Again, that will rely on collectors’ ability to use the internet for research, as well as a keen eye from the people who use it, but it’s a start. I have often said that signatures from card companies inserted in packs are going to be the only way to get an authentic signature in the future, and its looking worse and worse every day. Not every piece is going to have documentation like this hilarious Mantle ball, and not everyone is going to know what makes a real Mantle real and a fake Mantle fake. That is where the opportunity lies, however. Education is most definitely the answer, and money spent on education will most definitely pay off. With a light amount of simple education, a casual buyer would be able to recognize that this auto is completely terrible, and this one is legit. But, like with most things in america, people want it done for them without thinking. Then when you factor in that Beckett has rarely ever covered the underbelly of the hobby, with the gross misunderstanding that people will be scared off, it starts to become that much more clear. As much as I hate to admit it, Beckett is a place where uninformed people go for an idea of what is going on, and because they purposefully avoid the subject of fakes all around, those collectors don’t know their asshole from a hole in the ground.
Based on the above, when I hear that the fed is walking the floor at the National, I couldn’t care less. They arent going to be able to do much than hit HUGE targets. Although I like to focus on the smaller targets, I don’t reach enough people to make a difference. Even a little bit. Because of that fact, bigger entities need to figure out a way to help out the people they reach. If we were able to create an autograph-pedia and give people a chance to learn, it would be a start, but if someone like Upper Deck, Panini, or Topps sent out a blast of what to look for, it would trump anything I could ever do. In fact, I would even put it together for them. They would just be the vehicle. Hell, if they don’t like what I do, they can give it to Beckett. I would be more than willing to let Beckett take on this subject as long as more people become edjucated.
Its funny because when one of Ufjumper7’s victims emailed me about purchasing a fake, he lamblasted me for calling people like him uninformed in my posts that I do about spotting fakes. Well, if this is the attitude of the people who buy the fakes, maybe there is no hope. If people are not willing to admit that they don’t know all there is to know, there will never be a way to reach them. In fact, when I spoke with one receptive dealer at a show about this subject, he admitted that he would have been offended in the past if someone called his eye for fakes into question. God forbid he cant tell a real from an obvious fake. But, after reading a few fake posts on different sites that I told him to pull up on his computer, he definitely saw where he had a lot to learn. Other people arent as willing to let their egos take a hit like that, especially when their livelihood is involved.
Basically, fakes will always be a part of the hobby we love, but they don’t have to be a growing stain on our reputation. Even if the fed does crack down on bigger fish in the pond, the minnows will always be our own responsibility. I equate a war on fakes to a war on drugs, as there will never be a way to win it. However, there will be small battles in which collectors emerge victorious, and that is where we stand to gain a portion of asylum from the shit storm propogated by the criminals among us.