(Editor’s Note: www.sportscardforum.com is one of the most popular collecting websites the Internet has to offer. Each month, Tuff Stuff’s Sports Collectors Monthly will share one of the best message board articles with our readers.)
On Jan. 1, 2009, I visited my local sports cards store to see what was new in the store. I have known the owner for several years and he had mentioned buying some cards the day before. I noticed that one of the new cards looked very familiar and asked to see it. The owner showed it to me and a second card caught my eye underneath the first. Both cards were from a trade I had made on Sportscardforum. I knew this because the cards were low numbered and I remembered the numbering on each of the cards I traded for.
The cards were a Derek Jeter Auto SPx numbered 4/10, and a UD Black Cal Ripken Jr. Auto Game Used numbered 3/35. I told the store owner these cards were in a trade I made online and I thought that they had been lost in the mail. I was completely stunned that the cards had surfaced after being lost back in August 2008 when I originally made the trade.
While I was at the hobby shop, a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service stopped in to deliver the mail. I told the carrier what I had discovered about the lost cards. He replied that no mail carrier would risk their job for some baseball cards. Then he asked the store owner who he bought the cards from. The store owner replied that two girls came in the store and one of them was a worker he knew well from the post office. The carrier appeared to be in shock that a fellow co-worker had stolen the cards and sold them with the help of a friend.
I returned home to get proof that the cards were mine. To do this, I printed pictures showing the serial numbers on both cards for proof of ownership, along with the original trade agreement from Sportcardsforum.com.
Then, I went to see the postmaster and explained what I had just uncovered. I showed the postmaster proof that the cards were mine and that they were lost in the mail. He said they would be doing an investigation and that it would take a little time and I would have to be patient. I asked him who this female carrier was that allegedly stole and sold my cards, and he replied, “an employee of the United States Postal Service” and that she also was my mail carrier.
I gave a brief statement and returned to the sports cards store. I asked the owner if he knew the mail carrier and he said yes. He also told me she had collected cards for a long time, had come into his store before and that he knew her as an employee of the USPS.
On many occasions, I had talked with my mail carrier but never asked her name.
I had told her about several packages that I had never received over the last year. She asked me what kind of packages I was expecting. I told her small bubble envelopes sizes 4-by-7 or bigger. She asked if I did a lot of buying or selling on eBay and I said yes, but mostly trading on Sportscardforum. She wanted to know what types of things I bought or traded. I replied sport cards.
I never thought that it would lead to her allegedly taking my mail and selling it for her own personal gain. I will know next time to keep my packages more private and not tell anyone what they contain. It’s a shame to have to come to this but it is unfortunately a step I feel I need to take to make my online trading safe again. Many people who are new to online trading are weary of being “ripped off” by the people they make deals with online, but we should never forget that it’s possible for a transaction to go wrong even when our trading partner makes good on his end of the deal.
If I had any advice to give my fellow collectors, I would say don’t give up searching for those lost cards. They just might surface in your own hometown hobby store. Because you never know, your mail carrier might collect sports cards, too. SCM