The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Sports Memorabilia

Mail Scams and Schemes: Counterfeit Sports Memorabilia
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Learn firsthand from retired Postal Inspector and National Postal Museum Docent Dan Mihalko about real postal crimes involving fraudulent sports memorabilia and forged autographs.

How about some inside baseball today?

Dan Mihalko here... your favorite docent.

Collecting sports memorabilia is a pastime as old as sports itself.

And it's also big business, generating millions of dollars each year.

Bats, hats, you name it.

If a big name player signed it or used it in a game, collectors will pay big bucks for it.

And big bucks also breed scammers.

Most common are forged autographs.

In this case, the fraudster forged signatures of famous baseball players onto cards, photos, and baseballs.

He advertised in a reputable collector's magazine then when you bought a signed item and attempted to have it authenticated, you learned the signature is a forgery.

Postal inspectors arrested the dealer and he was convicted of mail fraud.

Don't swing at a bad pitch!

Buy your collectibles from reputable dealers who offer guarantees of authenticity.

Compare prices.

If an autographed item is valuable and being sold at an extreme discount, it's likely that the item is fraud.

Trust your instincts... don't strike out!

Consumer Tips for Collectors

  • Compare prices of similar signed memorabilia—if something is deeply discounted, it’s more likely to be a fake.
  • Research the seller, but keep in mind even a seller who seems legitimate could be a scammer.
  • Report suspected mail fraud or witnessing of a crime by contacting the United States Postal Inspection Service. Visit for details. The US Postal Inspection Service—one of our nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies—protects mail, post offices and postal employees. Inspectors are on the ground and on the job, from restoring postal service after a disaster to capturing drug traffickers and protecting citizens from mail fraud. We can all be partners in prevention, by learning to protect ourselves from fraud, identity theft, and other postal crimes.