This week, my posts have been all about fakers and fraudsters. The ball got rolling on Monday evening when I was hunting for a Viking jersey replica, and wound up nearly getting suckered by fake websites purporting to offer up the real deal. Then there were the allegations of heretofore trusted sports cards companies allegedly buying jerseys for their relic cards despite knowing that the gear wasn’t game-worn. Today, we’ve got a bust on a smaller scale, but one that points to the bigger problems.
This week, a man in Warwick, Rhode Island, was arrested for the smuggling and distribution of counterfeit sports jerseys, mostly those of the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, and New England Patriots. The man, Norman Cipriano, was allegedly invoicing the items he sold and received incorrectly, tipping investigators off to his fraudulent activities. Further investigation revealed that Cipriano had been buying and selling fake, China-made jerseys online and at flea markets. Police began hauling out boxes upon boxes of the fake merchandise, with estimates pointing to $1 million worth of potential sales.
Now, it’s a given that when you buy a sports jersey at a dude’s table at a flea market, you’re probably getting a fake. To a kid’s mom who only has to pay $50 instead of $100 to make her son happy, the illegitimacy of the purchase may not much matter. But the problem with fake merchandise flooding the market to this extent, the task of making sure your collectibles are the real deal becomes that much harder.
I’m no authenticity expert, but the best thing you can do is make sure your dealer is reputable. And as we’ve learned this week, that may be nearly as difficult as determining the authenticity of the item itself.