We Still Believe "It Pays to be Honest"
Like You, I grew up being taught that it is NOT ok to “look the other way” when
someone is in need of help and/or when an injustice is imminent. Unfortunately today, the “norm” has evolved
into “don’t get involved” or “mind your own business”. Obviously this disposition is not a productive contribution to all of our safe and healthy way of life. And, certainly an inevitable detriment to future generations.. On the other hand, I understand why many people follow the risk avoidance
philosophy. Frankly, it can be risky to
help someone, particularly when you (or they) are confronted by the "desperate”
element of society . Many people respond to a potentially threatening experience
by retreating. However, I learned early in life and in particular while serving in the US Navy Submarine Service, that "retreating" was not an option.
A recent such scenario occurred
during the past year and had some, though minor, affect on my business which many
of you have been a part of for several years. Needless to say, when any business
grows as much as ours has over the past ten years, becoming a target of the “ethically
challenged” is expected .
In the world of collecting high value memorabilia, is the temptation and
invitation for fraud. And, nowhere is
that more prevalent than the collecting genre of autographs. Today those who engage in this fraudulent activity have the ultimate
tools at their disposal. Namely the
internet and in particular, venues like eBay. So, what happens when one of these prolific autograph forgery operations
are threatened or “outed” by conscientious members of the collecting community? The response is typically hostile, even
malicious. Remember “who” these people are
and what their agenda is. Like any
criminal element they will often go to ominous extremes to protect their
illegal livelihood and hence try to silence those, via intimidation tactics, who speak out against them.
Kevin Conway, have been collecting and selling
Genuine Historical Autographed Memorabilia for over 30 years. Not only is collecting a passion but it is
also a business. So like any reputable dealer who discovers a “cancer” within the industry that can do great
harm, such as unscrupulous sellers of Obvious Autograph Forgeries, I speak out. Even if that means the typically expected malicious retaliation from those that engage in such criminal activity. That is what happened recently as detailed
Over a year ago we were notified by loyal customers that several online consumer complaint websites had reports attacking our business. From someone who has Never done business with us. Sadly the internet has become a safe haven for what many refer to as “Cyber terrorists”. Namely people who are malicious predators using anonymous identities, to make fabricated, slanderous attacks on others, particularly other businesses. . Anyone, such as a business competitor, can open an account on a website like Ripoffreport.com and make outlandish comments about another business without any accountability, any proof of their claim or even any identity verification. See this incredulous story below.
Over the past year someone who has NEVER done business with me, has been posting online derogatory reviews and reports about my business. The author of these reports makes it clear with his malevolent tone that he has a personal vendetta. It all began about 6-7 years ago after I noticed a seller on eBay that was buying photos and then weeks later that same photo would be autographed, by “deceased” celebrities (JFK, Bela Lugosi, John Wayne, etc). I commented on this fraudulent autograph seller on the autograph forum “Is It real”. He was eventually banned from selling autographs by eBay . But then I noticed this same individual from New Jersey opened a website that is inundated with obvious forgeries.
Well at the time he threatened to sue me for “outing” his illegal operation. Such empty threats are common from those who engage in criminal activity. Meanwhile, I didn’t hear from him for the past several years. Then in the Autograph Magazine Live forum I noticed a derogatory post by an individual that I was certain was this same guy. At the same time I was informed by a customer that there were several “Ripoff” type reports on the internet by this person stating I sold him a John Hancock letter for over $100,000 that he claims to have purchased from me... Well, the good news is he didn’t make much effort to make his claim sound remotely believable. You see, I have never even owned or sold a John Hancock, EVER (I WISH I did!), and Never sold anything close to $100,000. Way out of my league. However, what was apparent was this unscrupulous seller of autograph forgeries had decided to resurface with a vindictive retaliation campaign. And of course on all these fabricated online complaints, he posts with various anonymous names as he knows he would otherwise be subject to a lawsuit. He never uses he Real name which is Allen.
* AND, of course this individual could never provide any proof of purchase or even ownership of such a document. As a matter of fact, on February 21, 2012 I received an email from him stating if I continued to discuss his illegal activity in the autograph forums he would "double and triple" his online smear campaign efforts against me. Again, clearly typical intimidation tactics by someone engaged in criminal activity. I actually posted his full original, unedited email in the forum AutographMagazine.com.
** If you ever read about someone claiming to have bought a Non-Genuine autograph from us, ask for a legitimate proof of purchase. They will NOT be able to provide any. WHY? Because it is only this ONE individual posting all the derogatory statements. The same fraudulent autograph dealer mentioned above. Also, for the record, in over 25 years selling autographs we have NOT had a single complaint. Anyone can verify this with the UACC.
The reason we have an impeccable reputation is because we have spent the last 25+ years following a strict code of ethics, which entails exposing fraud when we see it. Yes, even when retaliation from the fraudulent element is expected. . Furthermore, if we EVER sold a FAKE autograph or not fully refund an autograph that did NOT pass JSA or PSA authentication, we would jeopardize this solid reputation, not to mention our UACC Dealer designation. Unlike sellers of autograph forgeries we are NOT afraid to guarantee JSA or PSA authentication.
The irony of all this is that Conway's Vintage Treasures is known within the autograph community as a company that is extremely conscientious, even obsessed with researching and confirming authenticity of everything we sell, particularly autographs. As a matter of fact, we are despised by many of the known forgers in the autograph collecting industry. Which is the reason for such cases of retaliation.. Not only do we guarantee everything we sell for life, but we go through an extensive process of authenticating based on our own 30 years of experience but also credible 3rd party certification (one common warning sign of a seller of fake autographs is often an indignation of any independent 3rd party authentication as the last thing they want is an "independent" analysis of their autograph forgeries).
So, in the event you come across one of these fake complaints, copied and pasted under various anonymous names, but obviously the same guy, you know it is a 100% retaliatory fabrication for “outing” this autograph forger over five years ago. I suspect what happened is someone else had posted a report against him based on a Real purchase they made from him more recently and he suspects it was me. But, for the past 25 + years I have always tried to be active in the collecting community combating fraud. But, with that responsibility is the risk of retaliation from the bad element that prey on collectors, particularly inexperienced collectors.
However, we will NOT be intimated by the shady element of the collecting and memorabilia industry. Even when it comes to unsavory people who resort to hiding behind anonymous, slanderous postings on unregulated websites like ripoffreport, where anyone can post completely fabricated complaints under false identities . (*Many people have tried to sue these websites , however they are protected by the Communications Decency Act, where the site owners can void themselves of any responsibility of even the most outrageous, false slander that is written on their websites by “Anonymous” authors. ). There are many people lobbying Congress to modify this law to at least require these websites to verify TRUE identity, but as with much of the internet it will continue to be like the "Wild West" until internet legislation catches up to the real world.
Meanwhile, when it comes to fraudulent sellers, namely in this case blatant autograph forgeries, we will continue to speak out against those who choose to make a living out of hurting innocent people. People that are just wanting to acquire a genuine piece of history, untainted by unscrupulous con-artists.
I understand why many dealers “don’t get involved”. However, if those within the industry do not contribute to combating fraud and criminal activity, who will? And what will be the ramifications to not just the autograph collecting industry but every other area of collecting, from $50 baseball cards to $10,000 movie posters to 50 million dollar paintings ?
UPDATE: On February 22, 2012 we received an email from this fraudulent autograph seller stating in the email that if I ever mentioned his name in a forum
again he would "Double/triple " his online slander campaign against me. MY RESPONSE: "I will continue to publicly help protect collectors and inexperienced buyers from fraudulent autograph forgers like the author of all these fake online reviews". I also posted his email in full on the Autographmagazine.com forum.
A final word about online review sites:
time you do research online for a business keep in mind that many of the online reviews are NOT
legitimate. Why? Because these review websites do not even do any form of Identity
Verification. So in other words, a rouge
competitor, disgruntled employee, angry relative can go on any of these
websites and post completely “made-up” reviews about you, me or any business and post them under anonymous
names. And these unscrupulous websites will
not remove the “fake” reviews, EXCEPT for a fee. For example, Ripoffreport.com will not remove
a fake review UNLESS you pay them about $2000 to investigate it. For
all we know 90% of the reviews on these websites could be completely false, but
because these sites do NO identity verification we’ll never know. Examples of these unreliable site with “fake”
** To find HONEST reviews for a business only rely on reputable review sites that actual confirm the author's authenticity. In the case of autographs for example, the most credible source to get information on a dealer is a site that is MODERATED to insure those making comments are who they say they are and not posting as anonymous and/or malicious revenge seekers. One such site is autographmagazine.com
NOTE: I recently wrote a report that details how to protect yourself from unscrupulous sellers. Be sure to read our new article "Ten Warning Signs a Dealer May Be Selling Autograph Forgeries"..
Finally, as one reputable dealer stated "when you are hated and attacked by autograph forgers you must be doing something right".
UACC Registered Dealer No. 307
Every Autograph We Sell is Guaranteed Authentic For LIFE
Note: UACC Registered Dealers MUST have a flawless reputation. Any Dealer who has an unresolved complaint will LOSE their UACC Dealer designation. See here for our current UACC Dealer status..