We all know that for every way there is to make money, there are people who will do anything to exploit it. The sports card industry is no stranger to these types of people, and they are very adept at finding new ways to scam you out of your hard earned money. Because these people usually prey on collectors who don’t know how bad it can get, it has become my goal to inform as many as I can.
Now, I’m sure you are all familiar with the popular 2007 Topps Rookie Premiere Autos that were available in the 2007 Topps HTA jumbo boxes. These cards are some of the most popular offerings each year, mainly because they are extremely rare, the autos are signed on card, and the design usually looks great. The RPAs are also some of the first cards to feature the rookie in their NFL uniform, which makes them very desirable to rookie player collectors. However, because Topps has to take the pictures, print the cards, and get them signed in one weekend, the cards have to be printed on different stock than normal. Unfortunately, this plays right into the hands of the people who have started to print and sell the fake cards.
In fact, fake Rookie Premiere Autos have been around since their inception, but they have never flooded the market in the way they have now. In recent months, a humongous amount of obviously fake RPAs have hit eBay with reckless abandon. Not only do they look like the real thing, but most of them have Topps certified auto holograms on the back. Although I am unsure how the unsigned cards are being printed, these scammers have found a way.
So, instead of getting caught in a really bad situation, here are some easy ways to identify them:
1. The pen used to sign the cards is much thicker than usual
2. The autos look very different than ones signed by the players (check authenticated or graded ones for reference)
3. The seller has many of the same type of card for sale
4. The colors on the card look somewhat different from the other RPAs
5. The price is oddly low for a card of this caliber
As you can see from the pictures, the scam signatures look vastly different from the real ones. In fact, if you look at the sellers who peddle these cards, most of the fake signatures look eerily similar to each other.
For instance, Adrian Peterson’s signature on these cards is a great example because of its usual complexity. On the real cards, his signature connects each letter with fluid lines. On the fakes, many of the letters are not connected at all. Also, on the real ones, the marker gets quite streaky at points because of the speed in which he signs, while on the fakes the marker is completely solid.
With the Calvin Johnson cards, the fake signatures are also obvious because of a few key errors. First, the real signatures slant considerably to the right, something Johnson does in every card he signs. On the fake ones, most of the letters are straight, some even slant to the left. Plus, also on the fakes, his signature is much smaller than it usually is on the rest of the real RPAs, something that would tip off many Johnson collectors.
Although these cards are easy to spot when you know what to look for, others may not be so obvious. Always be sure to look for the red flags in any situation, as many scammers utilize tactics that are obvious to the informed collector. Two huge red flags are always sellers with negative feedback and sellers that use private auctions. If either of these two things are present in the auction you are bidding on, it’s safer to walk away. If worse comes to worse, message boards have a vast community of users who are experts in determining fakes, and many of the blogs also highlight recent scams.
When it comes down to it, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let the sellers fool you with promises of authenticity; its better to just buy one you know is indisputably real. Topps auto hologram or not, these particular cards are fake.