How can i avoid buying fake signatures?
Every day i am asked about the authenticity of an item that they have just found on Facebook or ebay etc. In so many cases the item is a hopeless fake and should easily be spotted without paying me to check it out first. So my first suggestion has to be "educate yourself regarding autographs" as all the resources are available via the internet to enable almost anyone to learn enough to spot the forgers and fakers on ebay and elswhere.
In many cases you do not need to know anything about autographs to spot the fakes, as many of these sellers know exactly what to do or say to part you with your hard earned money and you can often spot these little tricks within their listings. The stories these fakers tell are very plausible and will often have photos of them with the star, but that proves nothing at all. Photoshop allows anyone to put their face with any star, and in many cases the images have only been stolen from another sellers site on the web anyway. Nothing said or shown to you by the seller should ever be taken into consideration until such time as you have proven the signature to be authentic. Allowing the "story" or images to imfluence you in any way will mean that they have started to reel you in and unless you are very carefull you will end up buying their fakes.
Always remember to check the sellers other items, too many big names at low prices? negative feedback? 'Private' auctions (this means you cannot see within the feedback the sellers previous sales!) There are lots of tell tale signs that the seller is selling fakes, you just need to know what to look for. All so often i see dealer sites with "30 years in the business" and yet nobody has ever heard of them! They will often have names that no other dealer has, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain or Bob Dylan all are very rare and almost never seen on a dealers items for sale.
- The Price. As the saying goes "if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is!" is one to always remember. Most sellers of fakes (but not all of them) will invariably offer you an item that is priced below its true market value, making you think you will be getting a bargain that you may well be able to sell on at a later date. They may well suggest that you are getting it because they need to raise some cash, or suggest that you are some kind of special customer or friend. I have often seen a collector drawn into this kind of scam slowly and unwittingly, the seller starting with a smaller item and gradualy building up to something much more expensive.
- The website. As far as UK law is concerned, anyone offering any product or service via a website, must have their full contact details on the site for everyone to see before any purchase is made. This seems like a very obvious requirement to us all, but you will be surprised to find that sellers of fakes often (but not always) ommit their contact details from the site. Another check you might make is with the Domain Register, as you will sometimes find that althoiugh the site may appear to located in the UK or the USA, it will in fact be in Spain or elswhere, at which point you need to ask yourself why!
- ebay, Gumtree etc. On all of these auction or sale sites, and we should include Facebook as well, it is very easy for anyone to offer fakes without you ever knowing where the seller is, so best advice has to be stay away unless that seller is registered with the site as a business seller. In the case of ebay this will mean that again they have to have their full contact details on the item page for all to see, and if you have the opportunity, you should double check the address exists as well!
- COA (certificate of Authentication). Any genuine dealer will tell you that a COA is a worthless piece of paper, especialy if it does not have the sellers full contact details on it! So never buy any item just because it has a COA or similar. Forgers make the life of the genuine seller much more difficult by often suggesting that a COA 'proves' its authenticity, or that you should have one to ensure that your item is genuine. Always remember that a piece of paper will never make a fake autograph genuine!
- Provenance. Never ever accept anything told to you about an item as fact, by all means listen to what the seller has to say, but assume its all lies and concentrate on the signature itself. Check out the signature first, and only after you can be sure that the signature is genuine should you take into account any story that comes with it. I have heard many stories and seen many letters etc, all confirming that an item is genuine, when in fact the item is fake and the provenance has simply been made up. Never ever let a story influence you in any way at all, as once you take any notice of the sellers story you will be on the rocky road to a collection full of fakes.
- Payment. Unless you are 100% sure of what you are doing, never pay by cash or direct bank transfer. My advice has to be always use PayPal or a credit card, that way you have some back up if it all goes wrong. I have seen far too many buyers who have been caught out by paying by direct bank transfer simply to save some money etc, trust me, if a seller on Facebook or ebay suggest that as the best option then my advice would be to stay away or you will lose out..
Follow the above and you cant go far wrong when buying. And if you want to know more about one of the sellers of fake signed football shirts and how its changed his life, just click here.
Garry King. Copyright 2018