Buying sporting goods, collectibles can be risky

By on November 26, 2021 0


Collecting sports memorabilia has been an American pastime for nearly a century. Dedicated fans look for memorabilia such as jerseys, equipment, cards, or other items that have direct links to famous players or historical games. Collectors’ enthusiasm and willingness to spend is higher than ever – and scammers have noticed it. Court cases in recent years have highlighted a widespread fraud problem threatening the sports memorabilia trade. With so many items now sold online, it can be harder than ever to believe that a seller or product is genuine.

Items “used by the game” are highly sought after. Buyers regard items that have seen the action on the pitch or on the pitch as valuable pieces of sports history. Consumers should be aware that there is a significant difference between “clearance used” and “clearance issued”. For example, a jersey issued by the game was designed to be worn by the player, but it may not have been worn. There is nothing wrong with selling this kind of in-game item, unless the seller crosses it off and tries to pass it off as a used game at a higher price.

Autographs are even trickier. With the use of autopen, manufacturers can reproduce ink signatures hundreds of times. Again, there is nothing wrong with selling auto-signed items as long as they are not misrepresented as being personally signed by the player and priced accordingly. Buyers should also be careful of online ads that describe items as “hand-signed” without specifying who signed them. It could be technically correct but still very misleading.

Pure and plain fakes can be the hardest to spot, and this problem has plagued collectors for decades. If you don’t have the time to become an expert at autograph authentication, but still want to shop, here are some steps you can take.

How the scam works – an example

When searching for an authentic jersey online with the original team logo on it, a site appears in the search promising great deals and fast shipping. This can take the form of a social media ad or a quick web search.

The name of the store does not sound familiar; However, it has great photos and low prices, which makes it so believable that an order has been placed. Credit card is charged upon check-out and confirmation emailed. Everything seems normal, until the weeks go by and the swimsuit never arrives. The anticipation of having a memory of a favorite team is suddenly shattered by the realization that neither the company nor the website exists when you try to connect with someone from customer service.

How to Avoid Sporting Goods Scams:

  1. Beware of offers that sound too good to be true. If the price of an item, collectible or not, is significantly lower than it is on the sites of other well-known retailers, this is a red flag that it may be. act of a scam.
  2. Research the company before you buy. If the business is unfamiliar, check to see if they have a BBB company profile, or BBB scam tracker
    to see if anyone else reported them as a scam. Look for contact information on the website, such as a phone number or physical address, as well as a strong social media presence to help you determine if the business really exists.
  3. Never wire money and never use a prepaid debit card as a form of payment. Both types of payment are often requested by scammers, and once the money is lost, there is no way to get the money back. Instead, shop online with a credit card and only on secure (https) websites.
  4. Check Certificates of Authenticity: Certificates of Authenticity (COA) are the norm for souvenir purchases, especially expensive items. So it is likely that the crooks will try to provide fake ones. A valid Certificate of Authenticity must show the qualifications and full contact details of the issuer. Before trusting a COA, make sure that it contains complete and correct information about the person who issued it, and then make sure that it is from a legitimate and reputable authority. If investing in a cheaper purchase that is not offered with a COA, the buyer should still request a written statement from the seller about the authenticity and origin of the item. It is also essential to establish and obtain a written statement about the physical condition of the item before purchasing it.
  5. Be very careful at charity auctions: some scammers target charities by offering them “donations” of false memorabilia. When considering a bid for an item at a charity auction, be extra careful and watch out for suspicious price assessments and questionable authentications. If in doubt about an item, consider making a pure donation to the charity rather than a purchase at auction.
  6. Look for a money back guarantee: If possible, work with a reseller who can guarantee a full refund of your purchase if you ever find out that it is a fraud. Check all shop policies, especially limitations, before purchasing the item.

For more information

To subscribe to BBB Scam Alert Emails for weekly updates on the latest scams.

Learn more about online shopping scams on to protect you from bogus products and online sellers.

To learn more about scams, check out BBB Scam Tips ( report a scam, go to BBB scam tracker.

Learn more about BBB accreditation standards and BBB Standards for Confidence.

BBB serving the New York subway contributed to this article.

Cover image courtesy of Pixabay

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