No legal action been filed yet in connection with the ongoing revelations of altered trading cards uncovered by members of the Blowout Cards forum since last spring, but the work to identify them continues.
More cards alleged to have been purchased, altered and re-graded for profit are being revealed on almost a daily basis.
Members have recently highlighted cards that appear to have been noticeably trimmed, including Exhibit postcards, early Cracker Jack and rare 1959 Bell Brand Potato Chips Dodgers cards, National Chicle premiums, modern insert cards of popular stars and even vintage matchbooks with players on them. Nothing, it now seems, has been immune from being a potential opportunity for trimming and/or other alterations, even if the potential financial gain in some cases seems modest.
Blank backed cards or those that are of an usual size can be easy targets for fraudsters who likely feel there’s less of a chance of their work going undetected when the cards are examined for grading. Size variations can and do exist in some issues and that’s one “loop hole” that appears to have been exploited by card doctors. Of course, as we’ve noted over the last several months, traditional sets have also been targets, especially those cards featuring Hall of Famers or commons that have proven tough to find naturally in top condition.
It’s a kick in the gut to long-time collectors who appreciate the rarity and uniqueness of some of the cards that are being permanently damaged to pad someone’s bank account. It’s the equivalent of purposely putting a nice card in your bike spokes without the happy childhood memories attached.
Those who slice off pieces of a perfectly good trading card don’t love the hobby. They don’t appreciate history. They don’t care about their fellow human beings. They love money and bask in their own ability to deceive. They have like-minded friends, it seems, and they’ve all been busy for quite a while. It’s frustrating, too, that so much of their work seems to be sliding under the goalie for reasons no one has yet explained.
The FBI doesn’t talk about ongoing investigations so there’s no real way of knowing where the probe has led, who is cooperating, who is under scrutiny or what potential crimes are being considered. Many of the dealers the Blowout members have identified as trafficking in altered cards continue to market and sell their wares. Unless and until charges are filed, that’s not likely to change. Given the dollar amounts that may be at stake, the hammer will most certainly fall at some point.
We do know subpoenas were issued at last year’s National Sports Collectors Convention, with purchase records being at least one of the objectives. Based on other hobby-related fraud cases, we also know the wheels of justice, especially at the federal level, can turn slowly and often in multiple segments. If investigators agree there’s validity to the majority of what’s been uncovered and alleged, it could be a long ride with plenty of twists and turns. While getting to the bottom of it all will be somewhat satisfying to honest folks, sadly, whatever punitive measures may be taken won’t undo the literal and figurative damage that’s already been done.