The FBI's well publicized "Operation Bullpen" caught some bad guys and got a lot of publicity. Now it's over. But the FBI is still interested in the hobby.
There were investigations, arrests, convictions, press conferences and quite a bit of self-generated publicity. The FBI's "Operation Bullpen" focused on putting some trust back into the autographed memorabilia industry and weeding out those who were forging the names of famous athletes.
The arrest of former boxer Chuck Wepner was the last big news we've heard about Bullpen. And there's a good reason for that. The Operation is over according to the Bureau's San Diego office. There are more possible indictments coming in the case but for the most part the feds have moved away from any organized effort to patrol the industry.
Yet the FBI says it remains willing to step in anytime collectors come forward with suspected cases of forgeries. "The public is our greatest asset," one official told Sports Collectors Daily late last week. "Most of our work comes from tips we've gotten from ordinary citizens rather than some formal investigation we start on our own."
The FBI encourages collectors to contact their local office if they have evidence that there is a group of forgers at work.
While suspected fakes have diminished somewhat, collectors should research the provenance of signed items before buying. The FBI has published a set of guidelines for buying autoraphed items based on it's interviews and the Operation Bullpen case.