Avoid Collecting Pitfalls

As many in the hobby are already well aware, www.sportscardforum.com is one of the most popular collecting websites the Internet has to offer. Whether it’s collector-to-collector interaction, providing a safe trading outlet or simply updating collectors on what’s hot and what’s not in the hobby, the site offers something for everybody and the visitor traffic numbers support that notion. Each month, Tuff Stuff’s Sports Collectors Monthly will share one of the best message board posts with our readers. This month’s topic provides some helpful ways to make sure collectors get what they pay for when making online transactions.

Recently on the forum, a member was considering buying a The Cup auto/patch print run of 50. As he was weary of whether or not the card was authentic, he asked around to get others opinion’s on the matter, and Reoddai provided him with a definite answer with proof that the card was indeed fake. To protect other collectors, I have asked Reoddai to explain how he was able to determine that the card was indeed a fake.

His first advice was to keep your eyes open. If you see a patch that looks too good to be true, it is worth doing an investigation to ensure you are not spending a ridiculous amount of money on a nice looking counterfeit. A rather elementary check which should be mandatory for anyone buying on eBay is a quick scan of the seller’s feedback. If there are some negatives comments, it is definitely worth pushing your investigation further. Even if there aren’t any, you may still want to look deeper into things for your own protection. Look around on the Internet for other examples of the same card with the same print run. Since you are on eBay, it’s rather easy to do that there. If the one you are contemplating buying looks much better than the other ones on sale, you may want to dig deeper.

Another precautionary step is to take a moment to be critical about the card you are considering buying. As you have just spent some time looking around at the same card in other auctions, make sure that what you want to buy is what’s being advertised.

For instance, if the auction advertises a logo patch, make sure it is indeed a logo patch and not something which appears to be from a shoulder patch. Other factors to consider include the size of the lettering, the dimension, and the quality of the material used in the patch. Material quality can be assessed by looking closely at the quality of the stitching (a poor quality material will often result in low quality stitching). After considering all these elements, if you still have doubts you can move on to next step.

The next precaution is to go back and revisit the original source. Both Upper Deck and In the Game have websites. Use them wisely as they sometime display examples of the patches used in their cards. It’s always a good idea to go back to the people who manufacture the product as they will always be the ones with the full story.

If you are still not certain of the authenticity of your prospective purchase, you can put the following search engines to good use: eBay, Google, and fakepatchreport.com. The latter offers a quick reference guide, including several examples of fake patches. While this might not be completely up to date, it still is a quick way to check on patches that have already be reported and on which the leg work has been done.
Finally, a search on Google is also a viable option, even though it is longer and more complex. Google’s advantage over eBay is that it saves cached pages of searches previously done by different users. Once you have pressed “search” on Google and a link comes up, rather than clicking on the said link, click on the cached link after it. This way, you will see the same search result the other person saw in their earlier search. This is effectively a way to get around eBay’s 30-day limit on past auctions and will allow you to see listings of items sold in the past 90 days. Again, make sure to use plenty of terms and options in your search: the player’s name, the card set, year, subset, specific serial number, total print run (ex: /50) and “eBay.” You may also want to do the search without using the word eBay. That way, you could also pick up transactions made on different trading forums.

Such research can yield many results, and this is a time where patience will serve you well. Go through the results closely reading the brief description provided by Google and click on the ones you consider of interest. You may also want to contact people who have sold such patches before. They may be able to give you some pointers regarding what the patch looked like. This step is by far the most time consuming and difficult, and probably requires at least an hour to make it a worthwhile exercise. If you have gotten past all of these checks, it is likely that you are not dealing with a fake patch. However, this method has its limits. You can’t see eBay sales having taken place more than 90 days ago, and you don’t see private transactions made in person between a dealer and a scammer. There is always a possibility that a scammer will be patient, therefore avoiding detection by this method.

Another big issue when it comes to fake cards is the fake rookies — Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Patrick Roy, the list goes on… I will write about this particular example in the near future.

If you have any questions, please let me know. Special thanks to forum member “Reoddai,” for his thoughts and tips on detecting fake cards.
Let’s hope we get many more members on the message boards willing to look out for one another.

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