Consumer Alert: Beware of fake sports memorabilia online

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Sport memorabilia is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and where there is big money, there are scammers. You have to do your research before buying a piece of history or risk being ripped off. One father thought he hit a homerun when he won an online auction for the jersey of his son's favorite player.

"I was devastated; I bought the jersey for my son to give him as a present," says Dan.

Dan lost $3,200 in the scam. He bought the jersey off a site called Vintage Authentics. Dan was told A-Rod wore the jersey while playing for the Mariners in 1997. He quickly learned otherwise.

"There was an event where Alex Rodriguez was signing jerseys and I approached A-Rod. His representative said it was a fake," says Dan.

Postal inspectors investigating Dan's case bought some items from the site, then went to the teams.

"The team looked at the material on the name plates and confirmed it is not the same material used in the jersey," says U.S. Postal Inspector Christopher Cizin. "They also looked at the color of the names and the graphics on the jerseys."

Both the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners confirmed the jerseys were fraudulent. Inspectors say this is a growing problem. In fact, some people have no idea they have been taken.

"If they receive the item they may have hung it up on the wall and they are happy with their purchase," says Cizin. "They never would have known they were a victim."

Dan tried to contact Vintage Authenics, but to no avail.

"When I found out it was not an authentic jersey, I contacted the company and asked for my money back, at least to say I never got my money back," Dan says.

The owner of Vintage Authentics was arrested and is still awaiting sentencing.

The best advice is to be cautious when buying memorabilia and to work with well-known, reputable companies.

You should also used a credit card instead of a debit card or money order for online purchases.

Credit card companies offer dispute rights, making it easier to reverse fraudulent charges.

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