Last year I bought a PSA graded baseball card from a seller on Ebay with the name “Wiwag.” It was a rookie card of my favorite player and was graded a PSA 10. I bought this as an investment and paid $100.00 for it. Just to give a little background, if you don’t know what PSA is, they are a grading company of mostly sports cards. You send them cards and they verify their authenticity, grade them on a 1 to 10 scale and encapsulate them in a “secure” plastic holder. Many people use PSA and other grading companies for their sports cards, and these cards generally sell for more money than a non-graded card.
So I’ve tucked away this card and kind of forgotten about it and I receive this email yesterday. Here is the text of the email I received.
When It Was A Game, Inc. (? WIWAG?) has pled guilty to a
federal mail fraud charge involving inserting inferior sports cards
into PSA-sealed holders (?slabs?) for higher rated cards. Your
purchase of a card or cards from WIWAG either directly, or indirectly
through innocent parties, may or may not involve one of these replaced
WIWAG has agreed that PSA will determine the true grade of
your card or cards if you so desire. If your card or cards are
determined to be fraudulently inserted cards, WIWAG will replace your
card with a card that has been properly graded by PSA in exchange for
the card you actually purchased. If no replacement card graded by PSA
is available, WIWAG will either refund your purchase price (in
exchange for the card), or, if you elect to retain the card, will pay
you the difference in market value between your actual card and the
rating represented on the slab at the time of purchase.
If you would like to have your cards assessed, please
contact San Diego FBI Victim/ Witness Coordinator Liz Bollig at
858-499-7952, or write her at 9797 Aero Drive , San Diego , California
, 92123 . In order to avail yourself of this opportunity, please make
contact with the Victim/ Witness Coordinator within 45 days of the
receipt of this communication.
So this guy has a pretty good scam going right? He has sent some mint cards to PSA and receives a PSA 9 or 10 rating, figures out how to bust into the card holder and replaces it with a less valuable/inferior card than is actually graded, re-seals the holder and sells it for high prices. Then he can send that same card that got a high rating back to PSA, get another high grade and repeat the process over and over. Depending on the card in question, the difference between a PSA 9 rating and a PSA 10 rating could be hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
So Wiwag has been doing this for some time and has become somewhat of an expert at breaking into these holders and switching the cards. He had a very high feedback rating and barely any negative feedback on Ebay so he was clearly fooling many PSA collectors for years. I took out my card yesterday and took out a magnifying glass and really inspected this card and holder thoroughly. I am now convinced that the card I have is a swapped card as there are some minor defects that are not clearly visible to the naked eye but most likely would not have received the PSA 10 rating. I cannot find any noticeable tampering with the holder however, which is the part that concerns me most.
So my situation now is, I can send this card back to PSA and if it is not authentic, Wiwag will replace the card with an authentic one or I can get my purchase price back if one is not available. That is good but, over the last couple of years I have sent many of my own cards to PSA to have them graded. PSA grading is not cheap and I probably have spent upwards of $500 on my collection. PSA claims on their site that their card holders are “tamper evident.” This is clearly not the case as Wiwag has proven many times over, and who knows how many others may have done or are doing the same thing? The point is that once this becomes more publicized people will be leery of buying PSA cards because they may never be able to tell if their holders have actually been compromised. Now I am left to feel that I have wasted a lot of money on PSA grading as I was led to believe that the holders were tamper evident when in fact, they were not and probably will not be able to get the true value of any of my cards should I decide to sell them in the future.
I’m wondering who else may feel the same way and am wondering if this may be grounds for a class action lawsuit against PSA. They must have known for some time that this was a potential problem but continued to accept and grade cards and placing them in inferior holders that were able to be compromised without them obviously being tampered with.
Anyone know any good lawyers and how to initiate a class action lawsuit? Anyone else on the board have this happen to them?