Vendor accused of trying to sell phony autographs at popular sports convention in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A grand slam gathering of the world's top sports memorabilia dealers, collectors and fans returned to the I-X Center for the 39th Annual National Sports Collectors Convention.

The much anticipated event, which hasn’t come to Cleveland in four years, kicked off Wednesday and runs through Sunday, with countless, priceless autographed items on display and on sale, as well as over 140 current sports stars signing autographs.

“It’s a really fun place to come,” said Ray Shulte, Director of Communications, “All these exhibitors, they’re the best of the best.”

And all of the exhibitors know each other very well, so they immediately noticed something strange going on with one of the new vendors Thursday and reported it to event officials, who immediately called police.

Shulte says they always work closely with federal, state and local authorities to ensure the show is safe and that the items are authentic.

Cleveland police investigators with the Financial Crimes Unit responded quickly and confiscated numerous boxes of items.

“They talked to the exhibitor and they shut him down immediately," said Shulte. "The exhibitor was allegedly trying to sell or attempting to sell forged signatures."

Cleveland police confirmed that an investigation is underway.

Reaction on the floor from other exhibitors was extremely supportive.

Steve Grad, who is principal authenticator at Beckett Authentication and a regular face on the hit History Channel show Pawn Stars was surprised anyone would try a stunt like that with current technology and when surrounded by so many top experts.

“I’d say it’s really stupid, especially in today's age,” said Grad. “It’s nice to see him removed from the show; I think it helps the sales of everybody else because that bad stuff is cheaper priced and will drag down the price of the authentic stuff.”

When buying any memorabilia Steve says it’s important to do your research, make sure it’s certified by a reputable authenticator, and most importantly, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”