Dad Loses Thousands to Online Sports Memorabilia Fraud - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Dad Loses Thousands to Online Sports Memorabilia Fraud


Sports memorabilia is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S., and where there is big money, there are con-artists.

In search of baseball memorabilia, a father thought he hit a home run when he won an online auction for the jersey of his son's favorite player.

"I was devastated. I bought the jersey for my son to give him as a present," he said. "He is a huge Alex Rodriguez fan and I was told it was fake. I felt victimized."

Dan didn't want to show his face because he still can't believe he lost $3,200.  He bought the jersey off a site called Vintage Authentics.
Dan was told he won a jersey A-Rod wore in 1997 with the Mariners.  He quickly learned otherwise.
"There was an event where Alex Rodriguez was signing jerseys and I approached A-Rod. His representative said it was a fake," said Dan.

Postal inspectors investigating the case bought some items from the site, then went to the teams.
"The team looked at the material on the name plates and confirmed it is not the same material used in the jersey.  They also looked at the color of the names and the graphics on the jerseys," said Christopher Cizin, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Both the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners confirm the jerseys were frauds.

Inspectors say this is a growing problem. In fact, some people have no idea they have been taken.
"If they receive the item they may have hung it up on the wall and they are happy with their purchase," said Cizin. "They never would have known they were a victim."

Dan tried to contact Vintage Authentics, to no avail.
"When I found out it was not an authentic jersey.  I contacted the company and asked for my money back.  Least to say, I never got my money back," said Dan.

The owner of Vintage Authentics was arrested and is still awaiting sentencing.
Inspectors and consumer advocates say the best advice work is to buy from well-known reputable companies.
They also recommend using credit cards--not debit cards or money orders for online purchases.
Credit cards offer dispute rights, making it easier to reverse fraudulent charges.




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