Con Artist Tricks Longtime Sports Memorabilia Collector - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Con Artist Tricks Longtime Sports Memorabilia Collector

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Sports memorabilia is big business and where there is high demand, there are con artists.

A collector in pursuit of rare autographs was confident he could spot a fake, but even he fell victim to a scammer.

Mark Mench has been collecting for 30 years, and when a listing for an autograph for track legend Steve Prefontaine surfaced, he was intrigued.

"A Steve Prefontaine autograph you almost never see," said Mench. "So, he advertised for things that almost everyone would be interested in who collects what I collect."

The "he" in question is Carl Myer.

"The way he (Myer) fooled me is because how he spoke," said Mench. "He knew dealers, he knew the business, he knew basically everything I knew about autographs and I've collected 30 years."

Based on these conversations, Mench bought several items, including cards for Roberto Clemente, Steve Prefontaine and Mel Ott.

"When the autographs came, I did recognize them as fake immediately, and I tried to return them I attempted to contact him," said Mench. "He actually threatened my life if I came near him, and basically I was left holding the bag."

"Several sports collectors filed a mail fraud complaint with the postal inspection service claiming they bought forged sports autographs," said Ryan Amstone, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Mench was one of 56 victims who paid Myer more than $74,000 for items.

"A lot of the victims submitted those autographs to professional sports authenticators who confirmed they were in fact forgeries," said Amstone.

Postal inspectors say by the time Mench filed a complaint, they already had a file started on Carl Myer.

"Everything was done by mail," said Mench. "That was his undoing."

Myer was prosecuted in federal court on mail fraud charges, and he is serving a two year prison sentence.

"I'm glad he paid a price, because I'm sure he fooled more people besides me," said Mench. "I feel like I'm a person who would be hard to fool. It's the first time in 30 I've been fooled."

Myer was also ordered to pay more than $65,000 in restitution.

Mench says the absolute best way to ensure not getting a fake is to seek out an athlete yourself and ask for the autograph.

 

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