California Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) has a celebrity backer for legislation she says would help consumers who are the victims of forged autographs.
Chang says the large number of bogus signatures makes it too easy for consumers to be defrauded. Assembly Bill 1570 is aimed at putting safeguards in place as well as providing civil recourse for buyers of autographs.
“The amount of fake autographs on the market is astonishing,” she stated. “It’s really sad when you see people, especially children, become the victims of forgeries. The illegal practice is really out of control.”
PSA/DNA, JSA, and other professional authenticators evaluate hundreds of thousands of autographs annually worldwide, and often determine the signatures to be forged. According to industry experts, the rejection rate can reach over 50% of submitted items for the more prominent names, including athletes past and present.
In the last 20 years, the FBI instituted two major investigations uncovering millions in forged sports, entertainment and historical autographed memorabilia – both cases involved operations in California. During the most recent investigation, the FBI estimated forged memorabilia “comprises between $500,000,000 and $900,000,000” of the overall billion dollar market.
“Because anyone can make a signature, we need to have a system in place to prevent that from happening,” added Chang. “And with the new Star Wars movie breaking historical records for sales and popularity, it is going to drive the number of fake autographs even higher.”
In fact, actor Mark Hamill recently took to Twitter to tell fans which of their signed collectibles were forged and which were genuine.
“I just can’t keep quiet when I see people I love being hurt,” Hamill told the L.A. Times.
AB 1570 will require dealers of any signed memorabilia to provide a certificate of authenticity upon sale of the autograph. The bill will also provide victims of forged memorabilia with civil recourse including ten times the amount of actual damages. Current law does offer some protection for sports related memorabilia issues but Chang says the new legislation would hold all dealers to higher standards.