In the market of sporting memorabilia who do you trust?
Memorabilia is a red hot business. Everyone wants to own that 'special' piece of sporting history, to display on their office wall, or mount on their games room wall, to impress their friends or to auction off for good causes.
But how do you REALLY know its worth?
The truth is you dont!
Unless you have been personally given an item from someone famous, then finding out an item's origin can be a difficult quest.
Since Ebay began, it has proved invaluable in making memorabilia available to anyone. Now you can own a Mohammed Ali autograph without meeting him, a signed football shirt by your idol without travelling half way around the world to obtain it, or even a Wembley seat back without having to rip it out the stand!
However, in turn criminals and scammers see this opportunity to make easy money without ever having to leave the comfort of their own home.
It has been muted that up to 90% of all memorabilia on Ebay is fake!!! That speaks volume.
In a market littered with conmen, you have to take very careful steps in order in order to protect yourself and your money.
I have been caught out and have lost money and can only hope by reading this, you can save your money.
First things first, you look at an item and think "WOW, thats cheap"-Its almost too good to be true-IT WILL BE!!!
There is no way on earth you can obtain a Ronaldinho signed shirt for £40. The shirt alone is worth more. Dont think that this shirt is different and you have got yourself a bargain-i can assure you you dont. You may as well flush your money down the loo!
Many scammers offer a certificate of authenticity (COA) offering full money back guarantee, and if you are really lucky you may get a hologram attached! This mean nothing. COA's are worthless. It does not offer peace of mind, and invariably does not guarantee anything other than a sore reminder that you have just been scammed. Think about it, how easy is it to make a COA on your computer, and get it laminated or buy a hologram set from a stationary shop? Its kids play to scammers and new ebayers will always fall for it-i did too often, and honestly some of the COA's were laughable!!!
So how else can you have proof?
Photo proof may well be the answer, but have a look at the photo proof-is it proof at all? On many occasions all the photo shows is, for example Drogba in his car with a pen in his hand. Does the photo show what he is signing? Is the item he is signing exactly what is on sale? It is very easy to see and if it is not-DO NOT TOUCH IT!!!
Put yourself in the shoes of honest memorabilia dealers. If they were prepared to wait outside training grounds to get a shirts signed by Drogba, you would think they would also get a photo of the shirt being signed, it makes business sense.
Furthermore, be very wary of people who sell items that they had signed at memorabilia shows. It is very easy to have their photo with Frank Bruno as he signs one glove, and then use the same photo to sell 200 forged gloves. How do you solve this problem? Go to the shows yourself or get a trusted friend to go.
What about multi signed items?
How difficult do you think it is to obtain a full squad signed shirt?
Almost impossible is the answer. Players dont have time to sign endless shirts. If i was ever to buy a team signed shirt it would be from a charity auction sponsored by the team and where the shirt is handed over to me by a team representative. I would NEVER buy one from Ebay. I see new multi signed Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal shirts for sale every day, some shirts are being sold from Australia!! how can they get all these shirts?? They cant, they are forged is the answer. Furthermore, judge a shirts value before buying it. A multi signed Man Utd shirt would be worth hundreds of pounds, not £45 with 3 mins to go!
A good way to start is to visit some sites that trade on Ebay as well as outwith Ebay. The ones below should point you in the right direction:
If someone is selling items and the bidder list is private, ask yourself why? No its not because they fear other companies may offer their bidders better deals, its because they have something to hide i/e they are bidding on their own items to make it look popular, then Mr new-to-ebay pops along and bids and suddenly no-one else bids and would you believe it, Mr new-to-ebay has one a worthless signed football for £200!
The trick on ebay is to ask lots of questions and make sure you have answers for them all. Check and double check whether any proof offered is in fact proof, cover yourself by making sure you pay by paypal and are covered to the expense of the item, and if in doubt dont buy!
If you are desperate for a special something, dont take chances because scammers are being paid millions to churn out absolute rubbish.
On Ebay trust no-one until they have gained your trust 100%