COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s been about a month since the Colorado Avalanche led a parade through the streets of Denver to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory. Since then, the value of autographs and memorabilia tied to the championship team have skyrocketed. It’s why the experts are warning consumers about taking the extra steps to make sure what you’re buying is legit.
A quick search on various online shopping platforms reveals thousands of items listed as Avalanche autographs and memorabilia in the last 30 days. The experts tell News5 fraudsters know there is money to be made here. So, as a consumer, being able to tell a real from a fake will determine if these items are priceless or worthless.
”We’ve sold double the hockey sports cards, memorabilia, Cale Makar rookie cards you can’t keep in stock, MacKinnon rookie cards. So it’s a lot of fun,” said Owner of John’s Sports Collectibles John Harding.
At John’s Sports Collectibles near Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs Harding says the demand for memorabilia and autographs tied to the Avalanche in the wake of the team’s Stanley Cup victory is some of the most he’s seen in 24 years of doing business.
But he’s concerned unsuspecting consumers are out there getting ripped off.
”Sometimes it looks really good to me, I think it’s real and then it comes out being fake. So you have to watch out. You can fake the experts sometimes with some of these autographs,” said Harding.
As the Avs celebrate their championship, Harding says he’s already seen people faking autographs looking to turn a quick profit off of someone who doesn’t ask questions.
”You know you buy a puck for $8, or $10, and put your own autograph on there and all of a sudden it’s an $80 puck. So, you have to watch out,” said Harding.
It’s something Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser warned about when News5 spoke with him a few weeks ago.
”Believe it or not we’re going to see scams related to the Avs Championship,” said Weiser. “Do your homework and don’t quickly put down money for something that may not be real.”
Law enforcement takes this seriously. Over the years the FBI has raided the homes of fake autograph fraudsters nationwide and has even sent them to prison.
”There have been rings, like in Miami there was a ring of five guys who faked a lot of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio autographs back in the 1990s and they all got arrested and they’re in prison right now,” said Harding.
While we’d like to see that kind of accountability in these situations. The experts say consumers need to demand an authentication company verify autographs and memorabilia are real before they pay up.
”They do a really good job these days. It has gotten really good in the last 15 years. It’s gotten better and better, the technology to really look at an autograph,” said Harding.
But keep in mind, not every authenticator has the same reputation.
”There’s also these fly by night certificates of authenticity that you can pick up from “Joe’s hardware store” that says oh, yeah it’s real. You’ve got to watch who you are getting it through,” warned Harding. “You can always call down to the store and find out which ones are the good authenticators if you are a little worried.”
Even if you aren’t a buyer right now, but have autographs or memorabilia in your collection that hasn’t been authenticated, the experts tell News5 getting authenticators to sign off on the items will increase their value significantly.
If you have questions about any autographed items, or memorabilia you’ve recently purchased or looked at purchasing, or you need help finding a reputable authenticator, you can speak to the experts at John’s Sports Collectibles by calling (719) 574-7040 or visiting their store located at 3615 Galley Road.
If you believe you’ve purchased a “fake” item and want to report it to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office you can do so at StopFraudColorado.gov.
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