Is there any truth with eBay applying the "Authenticity Guarantee" service with autographed items listed on eBay?
I know they do this with Sneakers, Watches and designer handbags etc but are they really expanding this to autographed items for sale on eBay?
I recently sold an unsigned 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle card on ebay and I was instructed to ship the card directly to ebay for authenticity guarantee. I had no choice in this but the process was seamless and of course it was authentic so there was no issue.
I have much to say about the authenticity of the "autographs" listed on ebay but I will refrain for now. Suffice it to say it would be extremely difficult to implement and, in the end, authenticity is just an opinion, isn't it? Unless you are there in person watching someone sign your item - or for that matter watching someone sit at their kitchen table and forge an item - it's your word against his. Even PSA admits their conclusions are simply an opinion.
I do agree something needs to be done; forgery is done on an industrial scale on ebay - witness the recent Kobe Bryant thread on this discussion board - but what?
From my knowledge they're only checking if the card is authentic and not the autograph. They rolled this program out this year I believe.
Yes, as I said, the card was unsigned. Ebay is simply checking that it's not a reprint.
However, the real issue raised by David has to do with the level of forgery on ebay and what, if anything, can be done about it.
The authenticity guarantee applies to items that can be objectively proven as genuine or counterfeit: watches, handbags, trading cards, etc.
Regrettably, the same does not apply to autographs. Even with reliable authentication, it's an opinion (albeit a highly accurate one.) Same with grading of comics books and the like. Even experts may disagree on the grade.
eBay did have a program where there was a team of knowledgeable people who would review and could get bad autographs pulled from eBay. The program removed tens of thousands of fakes from eBay and was effective IMO. For whatever reason, they discontinued that program several years ago.
I do not see a practical way for eBay to implement an authenticity guarantee for autographs.
Unfortunately I agree with Steve; I don't see a solution. There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence of individual sellers and teams of sellers mass producing fakes quite literally on an assembly line scale but even the FBI couldn't get a conviction unless they actually witness the forgery taking place. In my opinion.
They prey on newbies, best I can tell. Perhaps ebay could be more aggressive in providing tutorials on safe buying but that's hardly a solution. In the meantime, if you're reading this, you already have an excellent resource with the expertise provided right here. There is also PSA Quick Opinion and JSA is about to launch a "First Look" service that I assume is meant to compete with PSA. I think Beckett offers a service as well.
For now, just my opinion, accept the fact that what you see on ebay is fake unless proven otherwise, and deal with it using the tools at your disposal.
Even recently released art cards are being forged.. ive seen fake Avril Lavigne cards and even Elton lockdown cards where the UPC code on the back had to be replicated. You have to assume everything on ebay is fake at 1st and work backwards.. guilty until proven innocent. Knowledge is the best protection.
Well said, Jason. Even buyer beware is not good enough. Assume it's fake and work backwards.
You are not without tools. I already mentioned the availability of 3rd party opinions, including the willingly shared expertise on this site. (Do not take the generosity of these members for granted!) There is due diligence you can perform yourself. Among them, always check feedback, it's your best reading on the seller's integrity. Check their other listings... do they have multiples of this same signature? You may want to ask how they procured 10 Ronnie Wood autographs. Check their sold items... does this same item pop up over and over again? Communicate... contact the seller and ask how they acquired the autograph.
These are just some of the things you can and should do on ebay to protect yourself. There are others. No, they are not foolproof. But for sure the last thing you want to do when buying autographs on ebay is blindly trust the seller.
All great info, however, I say never trust feedback numbers.. there was an ebay member "hulahoopsolo" who sold nothing but fake cds. Items constantly popped up that were similar to ones he sold a few months back. He even sold a few Kurt Cobains. All were put as an auction. Most selling for $60 to $100 but some reaching $200 to $400. His rating was near perfect. He finally seems to be inactive but possibly just switched to using a different account. There are probably old threads on him. Ive ran into one about a year ago and couldn't believe he was still active.. from the items I am aware of, its possible he profited close to $100k all on cds he most likely bought cheap at resale shops to forge. Buyers kept bidding and purchasing. They were fakes an amature could catch if they took some time on to research basic signs of a forged autograph. Signatures were all uniformity signed slow but they did have some characteristics of real signatures. Im almost certain I know what technique he used but I wont post it on a public forum.
I vowed way back when I was 13 to never forge an autograph. Im a huge believer in karma after getting scamed out of a purchase which took me all summer to save for. I can never make anyone feel the way I did. These forgers are heartless soulless monsters but that experience taught me a lot for how to educate myself. Ive learned even more the last 10 years from my wife being an artist and a graphic designer. Ill never stop trying to learn. It seems that since this hobby has exploded in the last few years, different techniques are popping up. You have to stay on your toes and never stop learning
Again, all accurate and thanks for your insights
Regarding feedback... many dedicated forgers have low numbers (this is the first thing to look for) because they switch usernames frequently. If one of these has even one negative for selling fakes, they are likely professional scammers. Remember, most buyers will never examine the autograph, so just one is enough.
In the case you mentioned where the seller had many feedbacks, I look for negatives, of course, to see what they say. If any are for selling fakes, you should probably stay away. If the negatives are for other reasons, and the seller replies with surliness or aggression, again stay away.
I referred earlier to teams of scammers. I made that reference because I uncovered what I refer to as a "cartel" back when I was actively buying Fred Rogers autographs on ebay. Here you need to look for patterns... are there multiple listings from many different usernames using the same language and pattern? The cartel I identified scamming Mr. Rogers were active when Kobe died; in many cases they didn't even bother to change usernames.
Bear in mind that some of there forgeries are really good. I have no proof but I believe there is at least one truly skillful forger operating and acting as a kind of warehouse for the professionals.
Ask yourself... why not? It's risk-free guaranteed income.