Buying Autographs off the Internet

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Risky Buisness !!!

My suspicions were high about autograph purchasing over the internet. I visited some autograph sites and read what they had to say. The problem of fraud on the internet was bigger than I had imagined. You should really visit the sites I included. Don’t stop there. Keep searching for links on autograph collecting that interest you. There’s so much to be learned. Again, I will relate what I have learned myself about the topic.

Fraudulent sellers rely on your wishful thinking. They know you are hoping to purchase a real autograph for a good price. Sellers offer many autographs for sale. Too many. I admit, I get seduced by the auctions as well. Then I do a little investigation of the seller which I will recommend you do also. Look at the seller’s track record, other items currently for sale, items sold in the past, description of the item, description of the seller and any pictures offered.

Don’t rely too much on feedback ratings. Of course if a seller has horrible feedback then it will be best to stay away from them. However, I know sellers with thousands of good feedback ratings who I am certain sell nothing but fake autographs. Veteran autograph collectors know not to bid on these fraudulent items because there are too many warning signs in an auction. They don’t bid so the seller is never caught selling a fake and maintains a perfect feedback rating. So the laymen purchasers will get into bidding wars against eachother. The price will sky rocket and the final bidder will be happily fooled with the forged item. Thus again, a perfect feedback rating is maintained by a fraudulent seller. There is also the threat of “if I give the seller bad feedback, they will give me bad feedback”. Sometimes no feedback rating is left at all even when a transaction goes really bad.

I like to examine the other items for sale as well as the one I’m interested in. First I check and see if the seller has one autograph for sale or lots of them. If I see they are selling quite a few (10 or more a week) I get very suspicious. Authentic autographs of celebrities are so hard to come by. I begin to question how a seller can have so much of them on hand, especially when they are continuously selling them. No one has such a self replenishing supply of autographs. The professional sellers will even admit themselves it is very rare when they always have a stock of signatures of the biggest names at any given time. Some folks will tell you to be cautious if the seller only sells signatures of the biggest celebrities. Actually I get just as suspicious when the seller has tons of autographs of the smaller names and has-beens as well. Those autographs sold in abundance can make a pretty pay check for the fraudulent seller.

It is also wise to look at a seller’s past auctions. If they have sold tons and tons of autographs now and in the past, question how they obtain these autographs. It is very difficult to maintain a large number of authentic autographs when you are constantly selling them. However, with a little rubber stamp/autopen operation, it is very easy to produce mass quantities.
I also look and see if they have sold the same celebrity autograph more than once. That is very suspicious. Especially when these autographed photos are identical: signature the same spot, same slant, same size with no variations.
Sometimes I even check out who has bought items from a seller. I ask myself do they appear like professional autograph collectors or not. Most of the time, the buyers seem like ordinary folk who were looking for a certain Record Lp and found it and By Gosh it even has the band’s signatures on it! I think these folks are the biggest victims of autograph fraud. They buy fakes because they don’t know any better.

To me, this topic is a biggie. Photographs are usually the medium and the norm in autograph collecting. Celebrities have their own photos and sometimes will sign them when you write to them by mail. I expect to see a lot of signed photographs for sale on Internet Auctions. However, signed Record LP Covers and Sheet music is a newer trend in autograph collecting. I am always knee deep into piles of record LPs and sheet music and it is very rare that I will come across one with a signature. Lp covers are larger than a photo and I cant imagine many were sent through the mail to be signed and returned. They are also a bit cumbersome to take to a concert or event in hoping to spot a celebrity and have them sign your item. Sheet music is just a little bit bigger than an 8X10 photograph but still I cant really see many of these being signed by celebrities and sent through the mail.
I am in no way saying that all signed Record Lp Covers and Sheet Music are fraudulent. However, I know myself how hard it is to come across a real one and it just doesn't happen that often. I run across about less than 10 signed Record Lp covers a year. And when i do, it is a rare special treat! I have never run across signed sheet music unless it was already pre printed which many were. When I look on Internet Auctions I see way too many signed Record Lp covers and Sheet Music items for sale. To me it is a high probability that these items contain fake signatures. It is a dead give away when a seller sells mostly singed Record Covers and Sheet Music and perhaps a sprinkle of singed photos.
Photos are expensive. Why purchase expensive photos to forge autographs on when there are tons of cheap Record Lp Covers and Sheet Music available? Most garage sales will give you these items for free just to get them out of their house. I think this is the reason behind the new trend in autographs appearing on Lp covers and Sheet Music. Be extremely cautious when buying these items.

I think an item description of an autograph, or lack there of, can really reveal a lot about a seller’s credibility. If there is only a 2 line description of the item “Signed Record by the Bugs” Cover is in ok condition, Record has scratches. Cover singed in blue sharpie by all members.”
Don’t you think the seller would show a little more enthusiasm in the item and talk i up a bit more. Where was it signed? What concert? What year? Did one of the members of the Bugs write a cool inscription or draw a cool cartoon? I find items like this lack enthusiasm and description because there is nothing to tell about the item. The seller knows the Record is just a beat up copy found at a garage sale and a rubber stamp has been used to write in the band’s names. Big deal.
If the seller only writes a two line blurb about the item and then rants on for many paragraphs about their credibility, their feedback rating, their love for themselves and their policies, they are most likely selling fakes. A reputable autograph collector will be reputable by satisfied customers and endorsements from reputable magazines and websites. A autograph dealer is not reputable because they say they are and their buddies say they are. Perhaps the buddies are as just corrupt as the seller. Perhaps they all have their hands dirty in the business. A dealer should be very up front about all their references. That is nothing that you should have to request to see a list of. If you are sent such a list of references and they are from autograph publications you have never heard of before, it probably is because they don’t exist or have no credibility to them.

This is another biggie with me. If I see a seller claim they got their autographs from an Estate, I am almost positive they are all fakes. There is no autograph collection that is so large that it takes years to sell. If you see sellers use this claim, stay away. What this really means is: (1. I don’t have to prove the authentic of these autographs because the fellow that owned them is dead. (2. If I am caught selling a fake, I can say I didn’t know these weren’t real. (3. I don’t have to explain how I got all these great items because the previous owner was a record producer and all of his friends were celebrities. (4. I am running the biggest scam in America and getting away with it!!!

I have never been impressed with these certificates. If sellers can forge an autograph they can forge a certificate of authenticity as well. So that is all the attention I will give to these.


There is no Autograph Authenticator assigned to watch over things and banish sellers that appear seedy. Internet Auctions rely on feedback to monitor sellers, so if 1000 happily fooled customers praise the seller so will the Auction Company. You are the police. All’s you can do is report a suspicious seller and make a fraud report if you suspect your item is fake. Then the Autograph Police come in right? No. Perhaps the Auction Company will give the seller a warning. Enough of these warning will get the seller removed from the site. However, they are fraud artists and will find a way to get back on. Personally I would think the Auction Company would be more concerned with fraud because the dirty money goes in their pockets as well.
The FBI doesn't mess around and play nicely with fraud sellers. They could care less about feedback rating. Perhaps it is best to contact them and put a seller out of business for a long time.
I have included their site in my link page.