The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Scams and Schemes

Thieves never seem to grow tired of trying to think up new ways to separate you from your money. There are so many different scams out there. How can you tell if something isn’t right? Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Most of us are aware of the Nigerian prince sham email, yet people still fall for it. Has someone you know sent you an email saying he or she is trapped in a foreign country without a passport and needs money wired to them? The stranger who just needs you to cash a check for them and will give you a chunk of the money? A buyer who will purchase something you’ve advertised for sale but needs to send you a check for a larger amount? They all have one thing in common. They want your money and are doing their best to trick you out of it. Postal inspectors take on the case when these scammers use the mail to perpetrate crime.

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This “handwritten” poem by Robert Frost is a forgery. Postal inspectors used handwriting, ink and paper analysis as evidence in a 1978 mail fraud trial, resulting in conviction and imprisonment of the counterfeiter.
Mail Scams and Schemes: Counterfeit Sports Memorabilia
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The United States 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.

Learn firsthand from retired Postal Inspector and 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!