Thursday, July 3, 2014

I'm Sick

I want to warn you, this may be a lengthy Blog because I have a lot to say about this subject.  Fair warning!!!

This morning, I woke up earlier than usual.  After getting my coffee and sitting down in my chair, I pulled my laptop onto my lap and began browsing the web for new articles on Counterfeit Autographs and the criminals providing them.  And here is what I found that is prompting me to write this “Rant” Blog.    Please take the time to watch this video:


It makes me sick that Charities are being scammed everyday by companies “Pushing” counterfeit/fake autographed items.  The reason they do it is due to the charities and their guests not being educated collectors.  It happens all the time and has been happening for years.  They are outright stealing from the charities, taking away money for their missions without a thought…all over the almighty dollar bill. I have been screaming this fact from the highest mountain since the start of BW Unlimited but I simply do not know if anyone is listening.  I am trying to protect charities and ensure that no one is taking advantage of them.

If you read the article or watched the video, you know that Steve Cyrkin from Autograph Magazine was interviewed.  Steve is one of the foremost authorities on the world of Autographs.  If you have any questions about an autograph provider, go to their website and search the name of the company you are thinking about working with – believe me, you will be AMAZED!!!
Now, you should know something about me.  I am a retired Maryland State Trooper.  During  my career, I worked with various Task Forces would enforced the counterfeit industry for Music, Sports, clothing etc.  After 20 years as a police officer, I do not care whatsoever for people who take advantage of others through theft scheme’s etc. and believe there should be harsh punishment for the same. 

So the fact that I am now on the national screen assisting charities across North America, I have educated myself on what is real and what is “Counterfeit.”  For years, I have been standing on my soapbox screaming for charities not to fall for the “Glitz & Glitter” of unbelievable autographed items and to focus on reputable 3rd Party Authentication. 

The definition and explanation of 3rd Party Authentication:

If you were feeling sick, would you go to your employer and ask for him/her to examine you to ensure it was okay for you to work?  Or would you go to a Doctor?  This is a very serious question.  How about this one – if you were having legal issues, would you ask your boss if he could represent you (assuming he/she is not a defense attorney) in court?  Or seek the advice and assistance of a Lawyer?

Using the example above, that is what charities are doing by accepting these counterfeit items.  The company from which the charity is getting the item or items, also authenticate them.   Without training, court approved expertize or education, these companies say “Yup…it’s real.”  3rd Party Authentication occurs when someone autographs an item, the company seeking the item asks for another authority, other then themselves, to review the item to ensure it's authenticity.  This way, everyone is protected and verifies that the item is authentic.  Professional Autograph providers will always use this method and will only use reputable companies to authenticate them such as JSA or PSA/DNA.

Of course…they are going to say it’s real, because if it sells, they are going to profit!!!  Just like your employer…of course he/she is going to say you’re fine and aren’t sick, because he is going to profit if you go back to work!!!

Believe it or not, when charities accept autographed items from companies which either authenticate the autographs themselves – OR – use an authenticator who has a track record of authenticating counterfeits.  This is all a part of “Theft Scheme.”  The counterfeiter partners with someone who will put their name on an autograph saying its real….for a price.

I am going to get a lot of people hating me for telling you this, but here is a test and you don’t have to be educated to do it – PLEASE USE THIS PRACTICE:

#1 – Ask the company who the Authenticators are for their Autographed items.  Any reputable company will quickly tell you who that company is and will also tell you about the importance of 3rd party authentication. 

FACT:  In the autographed sports industry, the standard or Golden Rule Authenticators are James Spence Authentication (JSA) or Paul Spence Authentication (PSA/DNA). 

RED FLAG:  If the company says they authenticate the items and they provide a Certificate of Authentication (COA) as the Authenticators…RUN RUN RUN!!!

#2 – See what the items they are offering and then search the internet for Retailers or other companies offering the same items. 

FACT:  When athletes conduct autograph signings, companies from all across North America will want to be a part of that signing.  With more companies involved, the price of the individual autograph goes down, making it more affordable for the companies involved. 

RED FLAG:  If you cannot find another company offering that same item or items…RUN RUN RUN!!!   

#3 – Ask the company where and when was the autographed item signed and await their response.

FACT:  Celebrities and Musicians rarely or never do paid autograph signings.  Furthermore, when they do, the entire cast is not present.  Also, on many occasions, someone from the band or cast may have died.   Celebrities and Musicians are often caught walking through an airport or out of a restaurant, it’s called “Chasing.”  The “Chaser” will always only have 8x10 photo’s because anything larger is hard to carry. 

RED FLAG:  If the company says “Outside of a movie premier” or “Outside of a show (Letterman, Tonight Show) and the item is larger than an 8x10 photo, RUN RUN RUN!!! 

#5 - Does the company have photo's of the Celebrity or Musician actually signing the item which they are providing?  Does the company have photo's of the Celebrity with a known employee of the company which is providing the item?

FACT:  Legitimate companies will always take photo's of the Celebrity or Musician signing the item which they are trying to sell.  It helps them prove that it's real.  Furthermore, the employees of the company that are there with the Celebrity or Musician, will always want to get their picture taken with them. 

RED FLAG:  Anyone can go onto Google or Bing (like I did above with the photo of Justin Beiber) and get photo's of Celebrities or Musicians just signing autographs - Which I know for a fact that one company does on their own website.  They post the same photo on their website to try to say that they are signing for them.  Formerly, some of these companies posted that these celebrities were signing for them - FALSE!!!  They were just taken off the internet.  If a company does not have photo's of their employees with Celebrities and Musicians - OR - photos of the Celebrities actually signing the items...RUN RUN RUN!!!! 

#4 – Is the autograph from someone who is deceased? 

FACT:  If someone dies, the cost of the autograph sky rockets due to its rareness.  Plus the people who own the autograph, will hold onto it.  If they sell it, the price will be VERY HIGH.   If anyone is holding onto an inventory of an item with the deceased persons autograph, those items will be quickly purchased.

RED FLAG:  Honestly, if anyone says they have items autographed by a deceased person with a very low price, RUN RUN RUN!!!  This one should be a “No Brainer.”  For instance, above you see a photo of Clarence Clemons.  Unfortunately, Clarence passed away on June 18th, 2011. 

#5 – Are the items autographed all common?  The same item autographed with different bands signing each one?  Are all the autographs signed with the same pen (often a paint pen)?

FACT:  When autographs are sought after, the items will always be different based on inventory levels of that item and where “Like” items can be purchased.  Always, the different signers will use different pens with different colors and thicknesses.  I’m not even an expert and I can pick this one out of a crowd. 

RED FLAG:  If you are looking at an autograph memorabilia providers pictures of the items they have available and you see that the items are ALL THE SAME, RUN RUN RUN!!!  Then look at the pens used, is it the same?  RUN RUN RUN!!!

#6 – Is the Autograph Provider showing the autograph items on line constantly? 

FACT:  When Celebrities and Musicians are giving autographs, they quickly walk through the crowd, often only signing once for each person, and even then, the autographs are rushed and sloppy and rarely perfect.  Because these individuals are “Chased”, no one will have more than a few in their inventory.

RED FLAG:  See the above, when a provider shows their autographed items on line, start suspecting something.  Even BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising cannot show a constant inventory because our inventory changes constantly. 

SUMMARY:  Please be smart or just not “Stupid.”  Don’t believe the hype!!!  Do you want your guests to find out the items you have in your event are fake?  Do you want to be the charity in the News Broadcast?  Doubt it.

Whether it’s BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising or some other company, please ALWAYS ensure the autograph items you are looking for are 3RD PARTY AUTHENTICATED by a reputable company.

However, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising always, 100% of the time, provides 3rd Party Authenticated Autographed items to charity events all across North America.  If you would like to learn more about the “The Reality of Autographed items” in the charity fundraising world, contact us today at