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#309066 - 01/12/04 01:05 PM Re: clarification on grade & trade [Re: Sean_C]
botn
I am gonna miss that car.


Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 215
Loc: Santa Monica, CA

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WIWAG was the number 1 consignor to Grade & Trade for an extremely long period of time. Grade and Trade is not in any trouble other than the fact that WIWAG has destroyed their reputation by their affiliation with them. Grade & Trade (Real Legends) is supposedly in litigation with WIWAG.
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#309067 - 01/12/04 04:38 PM Re: clarification on grade & trade [Re: botn]
jackstraw
Talkative?


Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 744
Loc: @ a Baseball Card Show

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i bet i bought 100 cards off them through their auctions in the scd before ebay and psa was big!
_________________________
Ken Griffey Jr

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#309068 - 01/13/04 05:57 AM Re: PSA and IBS [Re: Sean_C]
deadlyembrace
The Venus Card Trap


Registered: 06/19/02
Posts: 596
Loc: Austin, TX

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Sean --

I tend to agree that the "numbers game" ... in the absence of definitive info ... is little more than an interesting exercise. But let's assume that your estimate is correct -- 1000 tainted PSA cards. 1000 bad cards, while not good for consumer morale, is not the problem that 10,000 bad cards ... or 20,000 or 50,000 bad cards ... would be.

In fact, if the scope of this scandal could realistically be limited to 1000 bad cards, it seems that CU would breathe a huge sigh of relief and publicize, in a face-saving way, the idea that the bad guys had been caught before before their illegal activity spiraled out of control (i.e., 10K, 20K or 50K bogus cards).

So why has CU been less than forthcoming about the facts in this case?



BTW ... I'm not trying to be argumentative here. It just doesn't seem that the wishful thinking of the PSA faithful squares with the actions of their preferred grading company.

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#309069 - 01/13/04 07:23 AM Re: PSA and IBS [Re: deadlyembrace]
Sean_C
Hobbyist


Registered: 10/17/03
Posts: 54

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Honestly, I think the reason they don't announce how many cards were affected is that they don't know how many cards were re-holdered. I can't imagine WIWAG kept good records on how many holders they altered, so it's probably a case of "how many times do we see this card getting this grade by this submitter". If PSA says it was under a thousand cards, and it ends up being 1500 or so, then people will jump all over them for trying to "undscore" the problem. If they overstate, they panic people needlessly. They've certainly handled the situation poorly by not releasing more details on potentially affected cards ("be on the look-out for 1985 Topps Mark McGwire PSA 10 with serial #'s in the following range" or things of that sort), and I'll probably be at the top of that list to bash them for that.

In the absence of information, rumor and speculation become the truth to a nervous population. What I have a problem with is people using this as an opportunity to further their own agenda. As for me, I have no agenda. I collect cards, and enjoy this hobby tremendously. Do I collect PSA graded cards? Yes. To the exclusion of other grading companies? Nope (outside of BGS/BVG and the third tier companies). If a better company were to come along that offered the general services PSA has with better holders, better customer service and a more hobby centric focus, I'd cross over my cards in a heartbeat. Until then, in my opinion, PSA is the best of what is admittedly a VERY sorry group of grading companies, kind of like being voted "most likely to suceed" in a juvenille detention program.

Quote:

Sean --

I tend to agree that the "numbers game" ... in the absence of definitive info ... is little more than an interesting exercise. But let's assume that your estimate is correct -- 1000 tainted PSA cards. 1000 bad cards, while not good for consumer morale, is not the problem that 10,000 bad cards ... or 20,000 or 50,000 bad cards ... would be.

In fact, if the scope of this scandal could realistically be limited to 1000 bad cards, it seems that CU would breathe a huge sigh of relief and publicize, in a face-saving way, the idea that the bad guys had been caught before before their illegal activity spiraled out of control (i.e., 10K, 20K or 50K bogus cards).

So why has CU been less than forthcoming about the facts in this case?



BTW ... I'm not trying to be argumentative here. It just doesn't seem that the wishful thinking of the PSA faithful squares with the actions of their preferred grading company.




Edited by Sean_C (01/13/04 07:26 AM)
_________________________
Apt reading.

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#309070 - 01/13/04 12:50 PM Re: PSA and IBS [Re: Sean_C]
grilloj39
I am gonna miss that car.


Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 215
Loc: San Antonio, TX

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Sean...I think SGC and GAI are fine grading companies. I also think PSA is OK, but I do not think they are as good as the other two. Yes, cards are going to slip through the cracks but that doesn't make a grading company sorry imo. Mike Baker has been grading cards for the longest and has graded virtually every major card in the hobby. I am not trying to promote anyone here, it's just that if he is one of the best the industry has to offer, and you think it isn't good enough, then I understand why you feel the way you do.

I think part of the problem was the creation of the set registry by PSA and now SGC. GAI is also going to create a registry as well. This results in people buying graded cards based on the label and not the card simply to complete a registry set and opens up another can of worms with overgraded commons, large volume submissions by dealers/big time customers, etc. I am not trying to ride my "high horse" because sometimes I feel compelled to complete some of my sets as GAI graded only, but I am doing my best to avoid the temptation. Some people feel mixed-graded sets are not as attractive or valuable as a PSA/SGC graded only set. However, the opposite may be true. I am trying to collect GAI, SGC and PSA graded cards, that are ACCURATELY graded imo, irregardless if my sets have different labels.

I wish the industry would recognize the value of an accurately graded, irregardless of the label on the holder, but those days are long, long gone.



_________________________
Always looking for GAI,SGC,PSA vintage Hockey and Boxing.

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#309071 - 01/14/04 04:29 PM Re: PSA and IBS *DELETED* [Re: Sean_C]
MW1
veteran


Registered: 07/30/02
Posts: 1358

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Post deleted by dena
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#309072 - 01/15/04 12:41 PM Re: PSA and IBS [Re: MW1]
Sean_C
Hobbyist


Registered: 10/17/03
Posts: 54

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True, my #'s do not reflect off-eBay transactions, or transactions under the cardmrchant account that has been alleged to be connected to them (I've never bought from them, only through G&T, so I have no clue who is connected to whom). A couple of things to keep in mind though:

1). The volume of cards sold on The Pit would have been a heck of a lot less than the ones sold on eBay (I'd say maybe 10%?) . Even back then no one was buying cards on the Pit.

2). Even if you add 25% to those feedback #'s, you would again be presuming that every single card sold under both accounts was bad. We both know that is not the case.

3). Sure the targets were higher value cards. Why take a risk on a 1990 Leaf PSA 9 Sosa rookie? I'm sure you are familiar with the old phrase "It's time to assess the risk/reward ratio of your nickel counterfeiting operation." If they were cracking 1999 Topps Traded Mark Mulder Autographed PSA 9's only to replace them with another one, then they have to go down as one of the stupidest criminal organizations I've seen in a while.

4). As discussed in #3, since they were going after higher-value cards, the # of cards that could potentially have been affected will be smaller. WIWAG's bread and butter sales on eBay were of modern cards in the $25 to $100 range.

5). As for catalog/trade publication sales, again I certainly have no way of knowing how many cards they sold, but I can be pretty certain that whatever they may have had in their inventory went bye-bye when the FBI raided their offices, effectively removing them from the market.

As for your assertions that WIWAG was using unused PSA holders, I'd like to direct you to the following thread , posted at the time everything was going on by Dan Markel. Whatever the issues are between the two of you I don't know nor do I care. All I care to point out is that the post has not been edited since it was put up, and it's a direct press release from the DA's office. For those that don't feel like going "across the street", here is the text of the press release:

============================================

January 17, 2003

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
San Diego, California



United States Attorney
Carol C. Lam


For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U. S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson (619) 557-5685

For Immediate Release

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY

United States Attorney Carol C. Lam announced today that a local firm and its officers pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Louisa S. Porter to the felony charge of mail fraud in connection with the sale of fraudulent sports cards. The firm, When It Was A Game, Inc. ("WIWAG"), has offices in San Diego, California, and from 1998 to the present was engaged in the business of buying and selling both graded and ungraded sports cards. Co-defendants John Slight and Craig Kreider are the co-owners of the company.

The quality of a sports card can be graded by an independent grading company on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest quality. A card that is graded as a 10 is typically sold for over twice as much as a card graded as a 9. When an independent grading company assesses a sports card, it assigns a grade to the card and seals the card and a label indicating the grade, in a plexiglass case, called a "slab". The seal on the slab is intended to be permanent.

In connection with their guilty pleas, the defendants admitted that they would sometimes remove cards that had been graded as 10 or 9 from the slab and replace them with lower quality cards. The lower quality cards would then be sold by the defendants in the slabs which bore the label falsely stating the higher grade. The defendants intended to deceive buyers into believing that the lower quality cards were actually of higher grade, thereby fraudulently inflating their value.

Specifically, the defendants further acknowledged that on August 21, 2002, they submitted an Upper Deck SP Authentic Series sports card of Bonzi Wells to an independent grader. The card was marked by Upper Deck as card number 0946 of 3500 cards produced. This card was graded as a "10", placed in a slab bearing certification number 40077235, and returned to the defendants on September 11, 2002. Thereafter, on September 22, 2002, a Bonzi Wells card, bearing certificate number 40077235 from the independent grading company and allegedly graded as a "10" was sold by the defendants to an individual in Spring, Texas. However, the card that was in the slab when purchased by that individual was a lower quality card, number 0594 of 3500.

The next appearance date for the defendants is June 25, 2003, at 8:30 a.m. before United States District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz for acceptance of the plea and sentencing.



DEFENDANTS

When It Was A Game, Inc.
San Diego, California
Incorporated in California, 1998



John Slight
San Diego, California



Craig Kreider
San Diego, California



SUMMARY OF CHARGE

Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341
Maximum Penalty (for individuals): 5 yrs. in custody and/or $250,000 fine
Maximum Penalty (for corporation): $1 million fine



AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation


Official News Release from the Department of Justice


==================================


the defendants admitted that they would sometimes remove cards that had been graded as 10 or 9 from the slab and replace them with lower quality cards. The lower quality cards would then be sold by the defendants in the slabs which bore the label falsely stating the higher grade. Seems pretty clear to me. If you have information to the contrary, you might want to contact the DA's office in California, as I'm sure they'd love to hear from you, as they can bring additional charges against them.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I know that I don't have all of the information, and doubt that short of a request under the Freedom of Information act I ever will get all of the info. I'll say this though: neither do you Mike, and neither do you Greg. What you have is rumor and speculation from others in the hobby that they present as fact. Sure there are some PSA sheep who probably think that the only card affected was the Bonzi Wells mentioned above, and I'm sure there are some SGC sheep who think that there are 100,000 tainted PSA slabs out there. Neither # is right, and neither you, me, Dan, Greg, nor anyone else not directly involved in the case has any clue how many might have been affected. If you have cold, hard, proof that they were slabbing their own cards, please present it, as you'd be doing the hobby a great service. If not, all you are doing is making yourself to look like a bitter former PSA Authorized dealer who's legit beefs with the company are lost or fall on deaf ears in this static.


Quote:

Sean,

Please don't take this the wrong way, but you are misinformed about the extent of the WIWAG/PSA Holder Scandal.

For instance, the numbers you provide only take into account those transactions that can be tracked through eBay feedback. As we all know, not everyone gives feedback so the total number of transactions by WIWAG and Grade & Trade cannot be determined solely be viewing each feedback profile. I would suggest that numbers 25 to 50% greater would be more accurate for these two venues.

Add to that total the following:

1. WIWAG transactions outside of eBay (after-auction sales and add-ons).

2. WIWAG direct sales through magazine advertising (e.g., in their frequent two-page spread in the SMR).

3. Transactions that took place through ThePit (yes, WIWAG was a major supplier).

4. Transactions dating from December 2002 to the present (just over a year) from WIWAG's other eBay ID.

5. WIWAG transactions at several Nationals where thousands of cards were unloaded to other prominent PSA dealers and customers.

6. WIWAG consignments to all the major auction houses from 2000 to 2003.

Obviously, this would considerably increase the extent and scope of the WIWAG/PSA Holder Scandal. I should also point out that WIWAG did indeed obtain unused PSA holders and were literally grading their own cards.

I am hesitant to assign a specific number to the problem, but there's no question that it's greater than 10,000 fraudulently graded cards. I also have reason to believe that the problem affects mostly higher ticket cards ($200 and up).


_________________________
Apt reading.

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#309073 - 01/15/04 06:11 PM Re: PSA and IBS [Re: Sean_C]
botn
I am gonna miss that car.


Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 215
Loc: Santa Monica, CA

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Quote:

the defendants admitted that they would sometimes remove cards that had been graded as 10 or 9 from the slab and replace them with lower quality cards. The lower quality cards would then be sold by the defendants in the slabs which bore the label falsely stating the higher grade.




Do you think that the vague statement above was worded that way on accident? If in that statement you have deduced that WIWAG was taking cards out of a particular holder and then replacing that card and resealing the same holder then I highly recommend that you seek help in improving your reading comprehension. That statement does not say exactly what the defendants were doing, does it?

Would it at all be surprising to you if CU decided not to come out and tell everyone, "Hey guys, WIWAG had unused holders and a sealing machine and had taken it upon themselves to start grading their own cards. The good news is that we found out about it and have put an end to this activity, the bad news is that there are several thousand (10,000, 35,000 or 100,000--you pick) of cards in collections and dealers inventory that we need to get back." While this would be the best solution, it would also have a marked impact on consumer confidence in the CU product initially. Everyone would go into a panic and start dumping their PSA graded cards. Submissions would go down and collections and inventory would be devalued overnight.

You may want to think that the information that I have is rumor so that you can sleep better at night but I can assure you that I would not be so irresponsible to repeatedly go on public message boards calling out the misinformation. I know that:

1) CU has not given the public all of the real facts about the case.
2) the number of cards/holders involved is a staggering number and not limited to the 900 or so that were purchased by the handful of people that sent cards in for review totaling less than $20,000 in restitution.
3) the defendants reported many millions of dollars in salaries during the time that this crime was being perpetrated.
4) WIWAG had a sealing machine and an abundant supply of unused holders.
5) WIWAG has been able to continue to conduct business as usual and submit to PSA but was required to do so under other people/businesses. The public was not notified that this was occurring.

Because of the way that CU handled this they are actually now at the mercy of WIWAG (not to mention Real Legends and anyone who finds that they are holding bad cards). The larger the scale of this crime the worse it would have been for CU and WIWAG. The brains behind this decided that it would just be better to downplay the entire thing. Maybe that helps explain why CU never came out and gave any details nor any follow up.

Maybe you should take 35 seconds and ask yourself what in the f--- I have to gain by speaking out and alienating myself with the a huge collector base who only collect PSA graded cards and think that PSA is the best thing since sliced bread. I am a card dealer and a collector. I am not trying to start up my own grading company and I am not on the payroll or a spokesperson for any of the grading companies, although I clearly have my preference as to where I submit cards. And believe it or not I am not interested in seeing PSA go out of business. Although CU's competitors may not agree, but I think that it is fantastic to have choices on where to send cards and there is certainly enough business to go around.

Greg

Edited to add:
Under item 2) above I meant to write $60,000 not $20,000. Just wanted to clarify.



Edited by botn (01/16/04 12:11 AM)

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#309074 - 01/15/04 11:35 PM ... [Re: Sean_C]
MW1
veteran


Registered: 07/30/02
Posts: 1358

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#309075 - 01/16/04 07:19 AM Re: PSA and IBS [Re: MW1]
Basilone
If I just sell the car, I can up my bid...


Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 166

Offline

Does anyone know what (if any) usernames WIWAG is using to sell cards on eBay?

John

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