Jason Masherah is president of the trading card company Upper Deck.
Can you explain the number of scams related to your industry that have been going on lately and why this is happening?
Masherah: Trading cards and memorabilia have been a longtime target for these types of scams. Quite frankly, it was the reason Upper Deck was founded. Upper Deck brought anti-tampering and anti-counterfeiting technology to trading cards the first time in 1989 and we brought the first comprehensive authentication process for autographed memorabilia to the market in 1991. Those items are just as relevant to protecting collectors today as they were 30 years ago.
What are some of the scams you’re seeing?
Masherah: Scammers continue to forge autographs on pictures, jerseys and other items just as they have always done. On the trading card side of the business, we have seen a rise in custom cards, which essentially means the seller is making the cards at home on a printer but you can’t tell that when you’re looking at an image on your computer.
How can consumers protect themselves?
Masherah: The key is to really do your research. With signed memorabilia, most top tier athletes have exclusive autograph deals and you can usually figure that out with a Google search.
The second piece is to make sure you’re buying from a reputable source that has a substantiated authentication process. Our Upper Deck Authenticated items all have matching holograms on the item and on the Certificate of Authenticity. The serial number on the hologram can easily be looked up on our website to verify the authenticity. It’s worth taking a few minutes to do a little research and protect your investment.
With respect to trading cards, look for key qualifying words in the online listings like “custom” or “replica.” Many scammers use discreet adjectives hoping that people overlook them. If you really want to be safe, I would recommend making purchases from an Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealer, which is our authorized brick-and-mortar trading card shop program. We also have an authorized Internet retailer program. Looking for those certifications and logos can be helpful in feeling secure about your purchases.
How big of an industry has sports cards become in North America?
Masherah: Trading cards, which to me also includes collectible card games, is as big as it ever has been. I’m not sure anyone knows for sure what that total number is, especially if you include the secondary markets like eBay. On the sports card side, we have seen significant growth over the past few years and are having fun watching people of all ages getting excited about collecting cards again.
What’s a good checklist to follow if you’re buying cards from unknown sources?
Masherah: To me, the checklist is pretty simple. Just don’t do it.
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.