The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

“Game Worn”

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If someone told you a team shirt had been worn by a famous player during a game, would you believe them? Off-the-rack baseball jerseys that never saw game time were fraudulently advertised as “game worn.” Watch the video to learn more about how the US Postal Inspection Service investigated this fraudulent sale.

Dan Mihalko, Docent:
Sports memorabilia is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. And where there is big money, there are scammers. As you’ll see in this report, do your research before buying a piece of history.

Narrator:
Ruth. Gehrig. Mantle. Baseball icons. Millions of fans who love the game collect memorabilia.

One father thought he had hit a homerun when he won an online auction for the jersey of his son’s favorite player.

Dan, Anonymous fraud victim:
I was devastated. I bought the jersey for my son to give him as a present. He is a huge Alex Rodriguez fan. And I felt victimized.

Dan didn’t want to show his face because he still can’t believe he lost 32-hundred dollars in this scam.

He bought the jersey off a site called Vintage Authentics.

Dan was told he won a jersey A-Rod wore in 1997 with the Mariners - he quickly learned otherwise.

Dan:
There was an event where Alex Rodriquez was signing his jerseys. And I approached Alex Rodriguez. And his representative looked at the jersey and told me that it was a fake.

Narrator:
Postal Inspectors investigating Dan’s case bought some items from the site, then went to the teams.

Christopher Cizin, US Postal Inspector:
The team looked at the material on the name plates and confirmed it is not the same material used in the jersey – they also looked at the color of the names and the graphics on the jerseys.

Narrator:
Both the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners confirmed these jerseys were frauds. Inspectors say this is a growing problem, in fact, some people have no idea they have been taken.

Cizin:
A person who wins an auction may have bid and won one of the auctions. If they receive the item they may have hung it up on the wall and they are happy with their purchase. And they would never even know that they were a victim.

Narrator:
Dan tried to contact Vintage Authentics, to no avail.

Dan:
When I found out it was not an authentic jersey, I contacted the company and asked for my money back. And to this day, I never got my money back.

Mihalko:
The owner of Vintage Authentics was arrested and was ordered to pay almost 18-thousand dollars in restitution. The best advice, be cautious when buying memorabilia and work with well-known, reputable companies.

Postal Inspectors and consumer advocates recommend using credit cards or money orders, not debit cards, for online purchases. Credit cards offer dispute rights, making it easier to reverse fraudulent charges. If you feel you’ve been a victim of fraud through the mail, contact the Postal Inspectors.

refer to caption
The scammer advertised that baseball pro Alex Rodriguez wore this jersey while playing for the Seattle Mariners. EXP.2013-7, Courtesy of the United States Postal Inspection Service.