As baseball playoffs draw near and football seasons gain speed, many fans will want to buy some sports memorabilia, especially a poster, card or ball bearing signatures of sports stars.
But there is a danger of buying a forgery. Sports memorabilia is an unregulated business with sales of more than $1 billion per year. After an investigation in 2000, the FBI reported that half the items of sports memorabilia on the market are fakes.
Here are some tips to help you get what you pay for:
¢ Take extra care when buying memorabilia of "hot" athletes who have recently enjoyed successful seasons, such as golfer Tiger Woods, pictured with a forged autograph. Often con artists exploit high-demand names.
¢ Certificates of authenticity are no guarantee. Anyone with a computer and some time on his or her hands can create documents that look real. Find the companies that enjoy the best reputations in sports memorabilia and look for their certification.
¢ If it's a great deal, it's probably a fake. The value of most sports items can be found in books and magazines. Also you can use the Internet to do some research on the fair-market price of specific items.