MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Getting the autograph of your favorite player can be a big rush — especially if you get to meet them in person. Most of us never get that chance, so we go shopping. So how do you make sure you don’t strike out and buy a fake?
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle are baseball icons. Millions of fans who love the game collect memorabilia.
One father thought he hit a home run when he won an online auction for the jersey of his son’s favorite player.
“I was devastated. I bought the jersey for my son to give him as a present. He is a huge A-Rod fan, and I was told it was fake. I felt victimized,” a fraud victim named Dan said.
Dan didn’t want to show his face, because he still can’t believe he lost $3,200 in this scam. He bought the jersey off a site called Vintage Authentics.
Dan was told he won a jersey A-Rod wore in 1997 with the Mariners, but he quickly learned otherwise.
“There was an event where Alex Rodriquez was signing jerseys and I approached A-Rod. His representative said it was a fake,” Dan said.
Postal inspectors investigating Dan’s case bought some items from the site, and then went to the teams.
“The team looked at the material on the name plates and confirmed it is not the same material used in the jersey. They also looked at the color of the names and the graphics on the jerseys,” U.S. Postal Inspector Christopher Cizin said.
Both the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners confirmed these jerseys were frauds. Inspectors say this is a growing problem. In fact, some people have no idea they have been taken.
“If they receive the item, they may have hung it up on the wall and they are happy with their purchase. They never would have known they were a victim,” Cizin said.
Dan tried to contact Vintage Authentics, to no avail.
“When I found out it was not an authentic jersey, I contacted the company and asked for my money back. Least to say I never got my money back,” Dan said.
The owner of Vintage Authentics was arrested and is still awaiting sentencing.
The best advice: be cautious when buying memorabilia and work with well-known reputable companies.
Also — use your credit card, and look in the mail for the Major League Baseball authenticity hologram.