Be Careful Of Counterfeits When Buying PSA Slabs

Be Careful Of Counterfeits When Buying PSA Slabs

Same cert number

YouTube Subscriber Brian emailed me an interesting story: that an eBay seller had a bunch of PSA slabs that had apparently been tampered with. The originally-graded cards had been removed, and swapped out for lesser (or sometimes fake) cards. And he sent me evidence. For instance, does this look like an 8?

No, of course not. Here’s the original card, per PSA’s scan:

Much better, right?

Brian sent me a thread from Collectors Universe, which, uh, is owned by the same company that owns PSA? So should be monitored by PSA representatives, in my humble opinion, and I understand that sometimes it is. Some of the linked cards have since been removed from eBay, while some of the certifications have been deactivated by PSA. But it had been weeks since some of them had been reported, and quite a few were still active.

It appears, of course, that scammy people are opening PSA slabs and replacing good cards with worse ones. And then they probably resend the good ones for grading again. It seems like a very profitable scheme, similar to the CGC reholder scam that came to light recently.

So I tweeted at PSA and their President, Ryan Hoge:

To his credit, Ryan responded very quickly and had the cert deactivated almost immediately:

From Twitter

This was an easy one, though, because before they deactivated it I could look up the cert number on PSA’s website and see the correct card in their original scans. The listing now says it was deactivated due to a known counterfeit on the market.

Good on PSA!

But they have more responsibility here. Why do they only have newer cert numbers showing the original scans? Did they not take scans of cards until recently? Highly doubtful. For instance, look up the cert for the 1961 Topps Mickey Mantle at the top of this newsletter that Twitter user included in a lengthy thread of similar issues. It’s an active cert, but you can’t see the PSA scan. What you can see is a 2021 eBay sale of the card, and it looks very different from the one on the left above.

Why would someone swap out the original? It looked perfectly fine! Quite nice, in fact. A 4 with really nice eye appeal.

I have asked Ryan Hoge when scans will be available, and will report back here if and when I hear back.

Is this problem rampant? Probably not! But we can’t really be sure. And this should make you cautious when buying a PSA slab. Particularly vintage. I will be looking more carefully at the cards, and hopefully looking up the original scans to make sure they match.

And yes, despite their flaws, I continue to buy PSA slabs. I believe that the problems, while serious, make up a very small percentage of their slabs. And I will continue to criticize them and push them to be better.

YouTube Comment Of The Week

Such a good question

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Upcoming Videos

I usually don’t do a video on the same topic as my newsletter, but I will probably do one on the PSA slab issue I detailed above.

Channel Highlights From the Past Week

Another fun Attic Find Friday, featuring the only known copy of a card from 1888!

I visited a new Maine LCS!

I went over the cards on my shelves and in my safe, and got great feedback from viewers about how “fire-proof” these safes really are.

We had a really fun livestream Sunday night.

My Pickup Of The Week

$15 for a Sapphire Triston Casas rookie in an SGC 10 slab? Yes please. It sells for $50 in a PSA 10 slab.

Subscriber Pickup Of The Week

Longtime subscriber Bart writes:

I saw this card at my LCS and really wanted it but settled for something a little less expensive. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this Mantle it just kept nagging at me. I’m not a grader but to me it looks really good for a 5 (only being a little off centered and having some dinged corners) and was fairly priced. I kept thinking about it hoping someone else would buy it and save me $325 🤣. You mentioned in a video you did about a card show that since you couldn’t quit thinking about a card you went ahead and got it. Well I followed your lead and did the same thing. Keep up the good videos and newsletter I really like them both.

To nominate your card for next week, reply to this email and include why it should be included and a photo. Please don’t be offended if I don’t reply.

I mentioned this article on my Sunday Clearing The Bases episode, but it’s worth linking here. “Navigating the Intersection of Hobbies, Habits, and Addiction: The Complexities of Card Collecting and Gambling,” by Courtney Recklein, whose work on Hobby News Daily is always worth reading.

Here’s the other Hobby News Daily article I mentioned on Sunday, about the original photograph from the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle card.

“Why did the ‘King of Collectibles’ cast doubt on their million-dollar LeBron James card?” from the LA Times, and conveniently not behind a paywall. I haven’t read the article yet, but it’s about the famous Cardporn / Goldin Auctions case I have covered before.

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