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How to avoid sports memorabilia scams

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 20:20:09-05

Phoenix, Ariz. (KNXV) — Everywhere you look inside the Auction of Champions warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona, sports history is for sale.

“That is Aaron Judge's autograph,” said co-owner Alex Kranz. “Pretty incredible Babe Ruth's hands were on this ball. You can see he signed it right there.”

Many will pay whatever it takes for a piece of their favorite athletes. An estimated $12 billion to $24 billion was spent on memorabilia last year alone.

“You know the stuff you’re buying for your 10-year-old kid, it could be just a player of today, a signed photo for $50 or something like that, but when you get into a game-used Hank Aaron jersey, you're looking at hundreds of thousands (of dollars) so it’s all over the board,” said Kranz.

In February, a Kobe Bryant jersey, worn during his only MVP season, is expected to fetch as much as $7 million.

While the price of an item can soar — making for a nice investment or just a great conversation starter — it’s important to know what you’re buying is real.

“The main thing in this industry is authenticity, [because] there’s a lot of forgeries out there,” said Kranz.

Third-party authenticators like PSA and JSA are essential to making sure the item is not fake.

When it says it comes with a certificate of authenticity, Kranz said customers should ask whether it can be verified.

“You don’t want to pay $500 for a Mickey Mantle autographed baseball to find out a year later it’s not authentic,” said Kranz.

With so much history yet to be written in the annals of sports lore, you never know whose mark may be that next legendary collector's item.

“Every piece has a story to somebody,” said Kranz.

This story was originally reported by Cameron Polom on abc15.com.