The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Forged Autographs

refer to caption
Forged autograph of baseball great Jackie Robinson on 5.25 inch x 3.25 inch card. 2013.2011.432, Transfer from the United States Postal Inspection Service

Baseball cards can be affordable collectibles but can also be highly rare and valuable—traits that scammers seek to exploit. Collectors need to be on the lookout for forged autographs, “doctored” cards, faked authentication, and counterfeit reproductions.

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The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated a scammer who had forged autographs onto memorabilia. The scammer then sold the “signed” photographs, postcards, and baseball cards as authentic. The scammer pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2011. Watch the video to learn more about this investigation.

Dan Mihalko, Docent:
Collecting sports memorabilia is a big business these days. But what can you do to make sure you don’t end up falling victim to a con artist selling fakes? Take a look at this case, it has some important lessons.

Narrator:
America’s popular pastime, the love of baseball... And like most sports, baseball has generated a memorabilia business worth billions.

Mark Mench, Fraud Victim:
I think I consider myself very knowledgeable about what a real one and a fake one is.

Narrator:
Mark Mench has been an autograph collector for 30 years and is very confident he can spot a fake. But, let’s say, his batting average took a hit recently.

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

Narrator:
The “he” mark is reffering to is Carl Myer.

Mench:
The way he fooled me is because, how he spoke. He knew dealers, he knew the business, he knew basically everything that I knew about autographs, and I’ve collected 30 years.

Narrator:
Based on these conversations, Mench bought several items. Cards for Roberto Clemente, Steve Prefontaine, and Mel Ott.

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

Ryan Amstone, US Postal Inspector:
Several sports collectors filed a mail fraud complaint with Postal Inspection Service claiming they purchased forged sports autographs.

Narrator:
Mench was one of 56 victims who paid Myer more than $74-thousand dollars for items.

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

Narrator:
Postal Inspectors say when Mench filed a complaint they already had a file started on Carl Myer.

Mench:
Everything was done by mail; that was his undoing.

Narrator:
Myer was prosecuted in federal court on mail fraud charges and is now serving a two-year prison sentence now.

Mench:
I’m glad he paid a price because I’m sure he fooled many people besides me. I feel like I’m a person who would be hard to fool. It’s the first time in 30 I think I’ve every really been fooled.

Mihalko:
Myer was also ordered to pay more than $65-thousand dollars in restitution. To be safe, buy your collectibles from reputable dealers who offer lifetime, money-back guarantees of authenticity.