Forrest Smith, the Philadelphia area man busted for selling phony autographs on books in late 2008, had no plans to stop when U.S. Postal Service inspectors caught up to him.
Smith, who was later sentenced to 33 months in jail and ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to his victims, had 2400 books in his possession. Agents confiscated 800 books with stamped autographs from famous authors when he was arrested accordiing to court documents obtained recently by Operation Bullpen author Kevin Nelson.
Smith bought first edition books on eBay, adorned the inside with supposed author autographs and then used a different account to sell them to unsuspecting buyers.
US Postal Service inspector Al Herzog indicated that “hundreds” of people may have bought Smith’s books and paid up to $300,000 in total before the scheme finally unraveled.
The 48-year-old Smith reportedly got the idea from seeing other fake autographs on eBay and decided to try it himself in an attempt to raise money to send his kids to college. Other booksellers in his home area tipped off authorities to what they believed was suspicious activity.
Smith pled guilty in 2009 to wire and mail fraud. Nelson reports that authorities were concerned he may try to commit suicide after feeling remorseful.
The scam went on for six years and according to another article by Nelson, Herzog was tipped off in part by Smith’s rather bold eBay ID.