Avoiding Cons at Comic-Con

NBC 7 Investigates researched the vendors at this year’s Comic-Con to see if any had complaints filed against them, alleging they sold counterfeit or inauthentic items.

With Comic-Con in full swing, comic book and science fiction fans are fighting to find exclusively signed posters, books, and other memorabilia. But with all of the prized products comes the chance that some might not be authentic. 

NBC 7 Investigates researched the vendors at this year’s Comic-Con to see if any had customer complaints filed against them. 

Of the 200 vendors NBC 7 Investigates researched, two had customer complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau that involved issues with authenticity or a delay in delivering a proof of authenticity. 

On Thursday, we spoke to the vendors and asked about the complaints. One told us they use a third-party authenticator and all of their products are authentic. The other said the complaints online were “all wrong”.

NBC 7 Investigates has a list of tips you should consider before buying comic-book, movie or sports memorabilia. To learn more, click here.

Hard to Tell 

“Buyers need to beware because there are a lot of forgeries out there,” retired FBI Agent Timothy Fitzsimmons said. 

Fitzsimmons led a nationwide investigation into memorabilia fraud, titled “Operation Bullpen”

Comic, movie and sports memorabilia is estimated to be a billion-dollar industry annually but experts estimate as much as 10-percent of those products are forged or fake. 

The FBI has previously stated more than half of all sports and celebrity signatures are forged and it’s hard to tell an authentic from a knockoff. 

For example, Fitzsimmons shared with NBC 7 Investigates these two Star Wars movie posters, both including autographs from the actors featured. Fitzsimmons said the autographs on one of the posters is fake, while the other is real. 

Fake vs. Real Star Wars Posters

Fitzsimmons said the poster on the right has an authentic signature from Anthony Daniels, the actor that played C-3PO on Star Wars. The poster on the left is a forgery.

“Celebrity memorabilia is not sold in the massive quantities of contracted signings the way sports memorabilia is,” Fitzsimmons said. 

Fitzsimmons also added that buyers need to be careful of third-party authenticators, as they too can be dishonest. 

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