USA Today is the Latest to Tackle the Altered Cards Scandal

The newspaper covered the ongoing scandal in an article on Tuesday

Honus Wagner D304The altered cards scandal doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. That’s especially true as it remains a focus of mainstream news outlets.

The Washington Post and the New York Times have both covered the scandal and today, it was USA Today’s turn. USA Today’s article was a bit different as they mentioned FBI subpoenas that were issued at the National.

I preface this by saying there wasn’t a ton there. The FBI and PSA, for one thing, declined comment. But one thing I did appreciate is that they properly credited Blowout for making many of the discoveries of allegedly altered cards.

One tidbit we did get in the was a quote from Jeffrey Lichtman, PWCC’s lawyer in the matter.

From the USA Today article:

“There has been some evidence that cards sold at PWCC auctions have been altered,” Lichtman said. “While there are questions of what constitutes an improper alteration, I can say with that PWCC is among those who have sold altered cards. PWCC has sold hundreds of thousands of cards and the problematic ones are in the hundreds — or less than 1%.”

1933 Goudey Dizzy DeanCollectors will interpret that any number of ways. But complicating matters is the value of some of these cards. These are not primarily $50 and $100 cards. In the case of this Joe Jackson card, for example, we’re talking a card that is nearly six figures. That’s a bit of an extreme case, but many of the cards reportedly saw increases in the thousands of dollars.

And when you’re talking about those kinds of price tags, it’s easy to see how only a few could cause concern, even if we are talking less than 1% of their cards sold. None of that even addresses additional altered cards that have not been discovered yet.

Another piece of news in the article is that hundreds of people have been refunded by PWCC for cards believed to have been altered. PWCC is also said to be working with the FBI in terms of the consigners of those cards. Exactly how many refunds or how much we’re talking about in terms of a dollar amount is unclear.

The big question most collectors will have is, what is happening to those cards once they are recovered? Destroying them may not be the best alternative simply because we’re talking about what are, in several cases, rare cards. Better they exist in an altered form than not exist at all, right?

The problem with that is that they could be passed off again without any alterations being mentioned and the cycle begins all over. An altered T206 green background Ty Cobb card was said to have appeared at the National last weekend, for example. According to this Net54 thread, said card was returned to a dealer after an alteration was discovered and then it was reportedly back for sale.

While these cards are rare and, even with the alterations, still somewhat valuable, it is easy to see why the ultimate fate of these cards is of importance.

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