In fact five days ago... I purchased this Eric Chavez signed baseball off of eBay for $6.05 (+ $5.95 shipping):
It's one of those Tristar Hidden Treasure balls that come out of those mystery bags you see at card shops and card shows. Each bag contains an autographed ball, a card with the player's name, and a certificate of authenticity.
And each ball has a tamper proof hologram that has a unique number, so collector's can verify the authenticity of the ball.
Well... at least until I learned about some shady stuff last night while hanging out with two of my buddies.
One of them is a guy who makes a living off obtaining autographs at team practices, golf tournaments, and games. While the other is a sports card dealer that sets up at shows in our area. Both are veteran dealers who have set up at the annual Tristar Show at The Cow Palace for many years. And both are acquaintances of a guy who now has me questioning if some of my Tristar autographs are actually authentic.
Let's give this guy an alias and call him Mr. Scam. He's a guy who lives in the Bay Area and regularly sets up at the Tristar and GTSM card shows selling his autographs.
So here's the deal...
Step 1: Mr. Scam buys multiple autograph tickets for a specific player. We'll go ahead and use Buster Posey as an example, since he was one of the players involved in the scam a few months ago.
Step 2: Mr. Scam also purchases the Tristar COA's to go along with each of his paid autographs.
Step 3: Mr. Scam stands in line and gets his items signed by the player in front of a Tristar representative and hundreds of other fans waiting in line. Let's say that he had Mr. Posey sign two photographs.
Step 4: After he gets his autographs, Mr. Scam gets into another line and waits to get his items certified. THIS IS WHERE THE SCAM TAKES PLACE. While in line waiting, he puts the two signed photographs in his bag, and pulls out two Buster Posey jerseys signed by Mr Scam.
Step 5: When it's his turn, he hands them the two Mr. Scam signed Buster Posey jerseys which get Tristar holograms attached to them.
Step 6: Later on, he takes the two photos that Buster Posey signed earlier in the day to PSA/DNA and has them authenticate the real signatures.
In the end... Mr. Scam walks away with two signed Buster Posey photos (PSA/DNA authenticated) and two forged Buster Posey jerseys (Tristar authenticated).
Here's an example of what I'm talking about...
Now like I said... this is actually a jersey that Posey held and signed (my buddy was at the same golf tournament and knows the guy who obtained it), so the autograph isn't in question.
It's the authentication process that I'm questioning.
Do you need a little more evidence? Well here's the thing. Buster Posey charged $200 to sign jerseys at the Tristar show. Do you really think that he's going to give his fans the short signature for that price?
Here's what it should look like:
That's the signature fans received when they paid full price at Tristar. But there's one more thing that's shady about this jersey...
The inscriptions were added by someone other than Buster. The Sharpie used is obviously different, plus Mr. Posey wasn't standing around adding inscriptions at Pebble Beach.
Now there's actually a fairly simple solution to stopping guys like Mr. Scam and the guy who once owned the Posey short signature. Tristar needs to attach the tamper proof hologram immediately after the athlete signs the item. This prevents shady people from switching out their items.
Just in case you're wondering if I've notified Tristar, I sent them a message on their site that includes the same details in this post. If and when I hear back from them, I'll definitely let all of you know what they say.
At the end of the day... I still have faith in the products I receive directly from Tristar, like stuff I purchase off of their site or things I pull out of their products. However... this is a huge flaw that needs to be addressed and fixed as soon as possible... otherwise supporters of their products are going to be dealt a major blow in the long run.
Happy Saturday and sayonara!