The other day I wrote about how I was almost suckered into dropping all kinds of cash at a couple of shady websites in pursuit of a replica Minnesota Vikings jersey. While my story is one of consumer caution and potential duplicity on the part of some creepy e-retailers, the world of sports memorabilia is unfortunately awash in shysters and crooks. The topic of disreputable dealers has come up lots of different times, from former clubhouse managers, to zombie forgeries, to simple thieves.
But an article in the New York Daily News from last week offers up yet another example of dirty dealings in the sports collectibles market. This time around, the story revolves around an already admitted fraudster, a man named Bradley Wells. According to the post, Wells started pointing fingers in an FBI interview from 2009. Wells says that even though he was busted for selling phony gear that he claimed was game-worn, many of his buyers were aware that his goods weren’t the real deal, but moved ahead with the purchases anyway.
Of particular interest are the allegations he makes against card companies like Upper Deck, Topps, and Panini, all companies which include pieces of game-worn jerseys as bonuses in many of their card sets. To hear Wells tell it, he sold these companies plenty of gear that they knew weren’t authentic for inclusion in their card sets.
It’s important to note that no one from any of the above companies responded to the article writer’s requests for comment, but if Wells’ allegations are true, they could have some serious implications in the industry. As collectors and as consumers, we trust companies who manufacture cards that are billed as collectibles to live up to their packaging. When there’s doubt cast onto the authenticity of a collectible, it throws the whole enterprise out of whack, and makes it that much harder to enjoy what should be a fun and exciting hobby. Let’s hope that Wells is just blowing hot air.
[Via New York Daily News]