Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ebay Forgery: It Happens

Be careful when buying autographed photos.

Thanks to today's technology, forgery is easier than ever. It used to require some skill and a steady hand to duplicate a signature, but thanks to autopens and Photoshop, more and more con artists are tricking people into buying FAKES.

Case in point, this recent item on eBay.

Julie fans might instantly have noticed that this is a Photoshop fake. It's Julie as Catwoman stuck on the body of some kind of half-naked dominatrix with a thick waste and rather stumpy legs. The con artist's idea: offer an autograph on a photo a fan definitely doesn't have already.

This seller also offered fake images of Emma Watson, Jennifer Aniston and Ariana Grande. So Julie was in good company. The seller also had unlikely rarities like a photo of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston autographed by both of them.

Giddy fans are pretty trusting. All they need to see is the magic phrase "Certificate of Authenticity." All this means is that somebody paid $20 for a website domain, and like a "fake news" site, put up false credentials about being an "expert." It might mean even less, and it's just a piece of paper signed by somebody claiming to be an "expert," and having no website or even a post office address.

Old-fashioned forgers would practice a signature and it would take a very trained eye to tell the difference. Forgers who use an auto-pen that traces a real signature and then duplicates it on any piece of paper, are hider to catch. You need to compare signatures and see that they match up on EVERY photo of that celebrity that the forger is selling. Thanks to Photoshop, it's easy to seize a real autograph, and superimpose it on a photo. What gives this away, if you look for it, is that the ink of the signature is no different from the ink of the print-out photo.

Some unscrupulous eBay sellers simply offer a copy of a signed photo, neglect to say it's a "pre-print" or a copy made from an original, and sell it as if it was the real thing. How many bidders, suspending disbelief, never bother to truly examine the photo that they lovingly frame and put on the wall, or simply obsessively stick into a looseleaf binder as an addition to "the collection?"

In the old days, con artists would just concentrate on a signature, but with new technology available, they can add something extra. In this case, the con artist stole an existing autograph that include Julie's added word "Fondly." The con artist could've found one with another common Julie phrase added, "You're purrrrfect," because it's perfectly easy to Photoshop as many words off an autographed photo as possible, and then superimpose them on something else.

Caveat emptor. (No, that doesn't mean Dick Caveat is hungry.)


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