It’s easy enough to scuff up a baseball and make it look like a 1930s relic. And forging a signature really isn’t too hard if you have a steady hand and some time to practice (not speaking from experience here).
And apparently, it’s also quite easy to hawk phony autographed sports memorabilia to nearly three dozen pawn shops in the Sunshine State.
Last week Florida police arrested Marc A. Szakaly at his Pasco County home and charged him with organized fraud to conclude an investigation that involved 19 law enforcement agencies in 15 counties. Szakaly is accused of selling fake Babe Ruth autographed baseballs to 35 pawn shops and cashing in for an estimated $40,000.
According to a report in the Marco News, a pawn shop in Largo was the first to tip of police after it realized the certificate of authentication Szakaly included with each of his signed was a fraud. The pawn shop had paid Szakaly $1,500 and others purchased fake Bambino signed balls for up to $3,000.
For such an elaborate scheme, you’d think Szakaly would have been smart enough not to use his real name and thumbprint in all 35 cases, but that’s precisely what he did. In the end, Florida authorities appear to have nabbed their man — and it only took a trail of 35 pawn shops to catch him.
(H/T Busted Coverage)