A 40-year-old Florida man, Marc Szakaly, thought he had the perfect scam. He would come into pawn shops and similar businesses with a rare collectible and a story.
The collectible was a Babe Ruth signed baseball. The story was some family emergency or financial hardship that required him to unload the ball, even at prices far below its market value. Note to the wise: In this day and age with internet information and values readily available, if someone is willing to drop a Ruth ball for slightly over $1,000, it’s a good bet it’s not real.
This guy took the scam a lot further, printing off fake letters of authenticity from PSA/DNA and even making up serial numbers for the items.
A couple of problems surfaced with the scam. First, when potential buyers of the balls from pawn shops asked to get the item reexamined, it came back at fake. Some of the balls used were produced after Babe Ruth died, so he couldn’t have signed the items in question. Also, PSA/DNA usues invisible ink on the balls it examines, and, of course, the items in question had none. The alledged forger also used the same serial numbers for different balls he tried to pass off as real.
Szakaly is out on $50,000 bond and charged with organized fraud.