In the baseball card industry, scams, counterfeits and rip-off artists have always existed. From the early 80s, when counterfeit 1963 Pete Rose rookies flooded the market to more modern sophisticated methods, counterfeiters are always looking for a way to make a dollar. Only the most knowledgeable collectors and dealers, who were familiar with the intricacies of the cards, such as printing techniques and card stock properties, were able to comfortably buy higher dollar cards without the threat of being cheated. The common collector was a prime candidate to be taken advantage of. With no simple method of detecting these counterfeits and most collectors not knowing who to trust, many believed this epidemic could single handily ruin the baseball card market.
However, in 1991, the “savior” of the industry arrived, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). PSA offered a service to both grade and authenticate baseball cards. Any cards sent to PSA would be graded and stored in a tamper proof case, thus ensuring the safe buying and selling of that card in the future. Even a beginning collector could buy a PSA graded card with the utmost confidence. Even today, the vast majority of baseball card collectors will rarely question the authenticity of card that resides within a “PSA” case.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the scam artists to figure out how to get their piece of pie in the graded card market. The most widely known and successful scam originated in California and is referred to amongst collectors as the “California Craigslist PSA scam”. Below, I’ll outline the specific scam and what measures need to be taken to avoid this specific scam and scams of a similar nature.
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