A Southern California collector has filed a class action lawsuit over the ongoing allegations of altered sports and non-sports cards.
Eric Savoy of El Cajon, CA filed the civil case in Orange County Superior Court this week, naming PSA and two major card dealers, PWCC Marketplace and Rick Probstein as defendants. A group of unnamed defendants is also listed in the suit.
It’s the first lawsuit filed in connection with revelations made by collectors in the Blowout Cards forum beginning last spring that some graded cards had been purchased, cracked out of their holders, altered in an attempt to receive a higher grade and ultimately graded again as authentic and unaltered. The altered cards typically sold for significantly higher prices after receiving better grades.
Many of the allegations made in the 39-page complaint appear to simply echo what members of the forum observed and offered there as documentary evidence.
The FBI has been looking into the case since last summer when it handed out subpoenas at the National Sports Collectors Convention. No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the case as of yet.
Both PSA and PWCC stated last year that they were conducting their own investigations into why the cards were not being identified as altered before being authenticated and graded.
“We take consumer protection seriously, as evidenced by the thousands of altered and counterfeit cards that we reject each year, our on-going investments in grading and holder technology, and long track record of working with law enforcement to eliminate fraud from the hobby,” PSA President Steve Sloan stated at the time. The allegations haven’t hurt PSA’s business, which continues to take in a record number of submissions each quarter and shipped over 700,000 items back to customers in the second quarter of fiscal 2019.
After it was singled out by members of the forum as a seller of many of the altered cards that were being identified, PWCC retained high-profile defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, who indicated owner Brent Huigens had been cooperating with the FBI probe. PWCC continues to conduct its online auctions and no charges have been filed against the company. Blowout forum members have since uncovered graded cards that were bought, altered and sold through other hobby dealers as well.
Attorneys for Savoy say the class action seeks “recourse for those consumers who were defrauded into purchasing cards at substantially inflated prices and into paying PSA fees to grade cards on the false promise that PSA’s grading system would differentiate authentic originals from altered frauds.”
Savoy alleges PWCC and Probstein knowingly sold altered cards “because as experts in the trading card field” they “should have been able to identify alterations.”
The suit also alleges that PWCC was shill bidding and that the company used its own “eye opinion” designation “to disproportionately grade cards in which PWCC and/or its principals held a financial interest as having strong Eye Appeal, thereby increasing their value for sale.” No specific incidents were highlighted in the court documents, however.
Savoy says buyers were defrauded when the altered cards were sold to collectors who thought they were buying cards that hadn’t been doctored. He’s also claiming all of his cards aren’t worth as much because of the revelations and that collectors have been “damaged by the presence of highly rated altered cards which distorted the market to make it more difficult to obtain value for lower graded unaltered cards.”
The suit alleges there are additional unnamed defendants and asks the court for the chance to “amend this complaint when the true names and capacities are known.”
Savoy is asking Judge William Claster to certify the class action suit, designating Savoy as the class representative. It also seeks a declaration that laws were broken as well as monetary damages for those who believe they were victims including collectors who purchased or own PSA graded cards and are willing to attach themselves to the suit.
None of the defendants had immediately responded to the suit.