|9-10-03 Latest News |
Autograph Scams: Be Aware! -UPDATE-
Xoanon @ 8:45 pm EST
Every week for almost 3 years I link to interesting eBay items that people may want to check out. Recently I've been adding this warning.
Since then I've received plenty of angry letters from fans as well as eBay sellers alike asking me why I've placed that warning online. Well here is one story that can answer that question for you.
William writes: Thanks for listening to my story.
I agreed to purchase a lot size of dvd's from an L. Palmer a couple months back. I sent him a check and I thought all was good. Waited and waited--nothing.
I tried the email bit--nothing. I figured the USPS just shreded the envelope and that was the end of that. WRONG My check was cashed. Now I start investigating.
This L. Pamer is also fanfestautographs.com! More research on that subject yields a whole lot of scam autographs which is how our ended up at your site. I think Viggo Mortensen had a problem with this guy. Which then gave me a name of Mike Johnson. This guy is all over the place. I also found addresses in Reno, LA, this also looks tied to a new company called photorazzi.com.
I Can't get those people on the phone. Anyway 200+ quid (USD$320+) down the hole. Thanks for your time and reply.
A ton of folks have written in with comments from both sides of the fence about this topic. Here are a few:
Regarding the report you just did about "Mike Johnson":
I was ripped off by the same person. I "bought" 2 LotR posters from him and they were never sent after I'd paid him. This was on ebay. He's a monster. I am fortunate to be part of a group that is trying to find this guy (via the Police) and get him arrested, but this has been a 2 year battle. He operates out of Los Angeles, and the police there have been less than helpful.
Just thought you might like the information. Maybe warn the readers to be extra cautious when purchasing *any* LotR related merchandise on eBay.
Great link, sorry story of William. Sellers on ebay abound, I personally will not buy one that I hasn't been given in front of my own eyes (only exception is the Topps movie cards which you can't get unless you purchase randomly or buy a whole box of). That is why Viggo personalizes what he signs, which is JUST fine by me!!! I would NEVER consider selling the two books he autographed for me!
I can only back that story about fan-scamming.
I ordered and paid for the original big cinema teaser posters of FotR and TTT last year July from www.tolkienshop.com. Needless to say that I never received them. The owner of that side, one Rene van Rossenberg, always answered my emails with "I will send them soon" or "I didn't get them yet". Early July this year he promised to send a refund. He hasn't done it yet.
His website is still claiming today, that the posters will be available soon! I didn't loose as much money as William (thank God!), but still ...
I was reading with interest your comments on buying autographed items on E-Bay and thought I would add my observations from the perspective of someone involved in the trade.
My experience is that autograph dealers tend to divide into two camps. On the one hand you have the charlatans and fraudsters. E-Bay has given this group innumerable opportunities to sell fake, forged and pirated goods, to run up prices through shill bidding or simply to take your money and disappear. I have every sympathy with anyone who has been caught out by these crooks.
On the other hand there are a good number of genuine and honest autograph dealers, who are always reliable and trustworthy and who operate by a strict code of ethics. The difficulty, of course, is in differentiating between the good and bad.
One sign of an honest dealer is that he is a member of a professional association such as the Universal Autograph Collector's Club (UACC). The UACC home page (http://www.uacc.org/) offers useful advice on buying autographs over the internet. It lists the UACC registered dealers selling through E-Bay (http://www.uacc.org/rdebay.htm); and for those who do not abide by the code of ethics or pretend to be a registered dealer when they are not, there is a "Hall of Shame"(http://www.uacc.org/hallofshame.htm)
Another useful site is Autographs 101(http://www.autographs101.com/). This site also offers a list of E-Bay dealers which it considers honest and trustworthy (http://www.autographs101.com/ebaydealers/index.cfm?CFID=3886207&CFTOKEN=59188887). It also offers a lengthy guide to buying autographs on E-bay with tips on avoiding the tricksters (http://www.autographs101.com/tips/index.cfm?CFID=3886207&CFTOKEN=59188887).
To sum up, it is quite possible to buy genuine autographs at reasonable prices on E-Bay, but it is important to do your homework beforehand to avoid being duped.