Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feds Visit the National

The National Convention was not all fun and sports. It was also filled with the Feds.
Federal investigators crashed the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, Ill., on Thursday and Friday, delivering subpoenas to several hobby executives to appear before a grand jury that is hearing evidence about fraud in their industry.
This is probably one of the hobbies biggest dirty little secrets. For many years this unregulated multi-million dollar business has been prone to abuse. Several years ago the FBI broke up a huge fake-autograph ring, called "Operation Bullpen." Now, they are hovering around the major auction house business to question certain hobby practices such as shill-bidding
(when an auction house or a consignor enters fake bids on an item in order to drive up the price),
fake memorabilia (in particular the altered UNC Michael Jordan warm-up jersey) and altered cards. The subject of their ire appears to be Mastro Auctions. AGAIN!
"No more business as usual," said Chicago collector Michael Gidwitz, who was interviewed by the FBI several months ago. "An unregulated business like this, it brings in a lot of unscrupulous people. This needed to be done a long time ago."
I say it's just about time. Fortunately, I'm not a collecting "whale", so to speak, so I doubt this has affected me. Nevertheless, I'm disappointed that these practices have been allowed to occur in a hobby I deeply enjoy. There are a lot of good people in the hobby and I believe these indiscretions are the exception and not the rule. Nevertheless, always keep your eyes open and if you have any questions I will always do my best to help out or point you in the right direction.

Hat Tip: VBCF:

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