TV Report : The autograph forger's
Markus Brandes featured as expert in the fight against autograph forgeries
The autograph forgers
Autographs are sought after by fans and collectors. Especially the rare cards of stars, which do not live any more, are real treasures. In the spring a signed Beatles photo has changed the owner for 17.500 € - a real gem. But the higher the price, the bigger the risk that fraudsters smell a business. The Internet is the perfect platform for them. More and more people are discovering for themselves a new hobby: collecting autographs of famous personalities.
It`s clear as daylight that therefore signatures are a flourishing trade.
So there is a huge range of celebrity autographs from specialized dealers, autograph fairs or on the Internet. Prices are paid from a few € to five-and six-digit sums for very rare and coveted signatures. Little wonder that also criminals are involved in this business. It's about easy money! Autograph forgers can with relatively simple means really make "cash" in a short time - usually with the sale on Internet auction houses. But the imitation of signatures is no longer a new phenomenon.
Thus autographs are forged for over 200 years, for example by authorized secretaries of the French King Louis XIV in the 18th Century - the secretaries had to sign for himself, and by forgers. Those have evidently already in the 19th century, particularly in the English-language area, brought thousands of falsifications in circulation.
Autograph counterfeiters spread the wrong signatures in great quantities. The current autograph boom began in the middle of the 90s of the last century and innumerable cheats are using since then the inexperience and naivety of many collecting tanks and fans. Particularly since the world-wide spreading of the Internet and associated anonymity these forgers can easily spread their falsifications - and that often undisturbed.
Hard punishments for fraudsters
But who is gotten, can expect severe punishments, as the Kasseler attorney Steffn Krnchen explains: " Falsifying of autographs is long no harmless crime! It is arranged by a whole " industry" behind it. In Germany are cases known, in those the authors obtained 100,000 euros and more up this way. And that is naturally criminally relevant as fraud!" - with appropriate punishments for the authors.
Attorney Kernchen: "Such acts are punished with fine or imprisonment up to one year. If the authors act professionally or as members of a gang, they can expect imprisonments from six months to ten years! "
Inexperience is used
But that does not seem to deter many counterfeiters! Thus discover Autograph experts like Swiss collecting tank and dealer Markus Brandes in the internet daily brazen falsifications - often for much money and scribbled, without real similarity with the original signature of the prominent one. The authors build on the inexperience and dupability of many fans.
Large caution is required - Particularly simply It is particularly simple for them, if suddenly many collecting tanks are interested in the autographs of a star, as for example after the death of Michael Jackson. Over night thereby the prices for genuine signatures of the “King of Pop” increased tenfold! Today autographs of Michael Jackson cost some hundreds up to some thousand euros. In the Internet, often unnoticed, a quantity of autograph falsifications are acquired for much money. For example if the genuine signature of the singer is on one of his well-known hats or one of his jackets. Autograph expert Brandes observed directly after Jacksons death that on the sides of Internet Aukionshäusern suddenly hundreds of autographs - adjusted at short notice - were offered on the sides of internet auctions. Brandes is convinced: "95 per cent or more of it were completely clearly falsified!"
Rather the direct way
Therefore experts advice first to act on the assumption of a falsification - and then to be convinced of the opposite. However buyers should only rely on the certificate of authenticity if these comes of an appreciative expert. Thus buy in doubt by specialist dealers, which are well versed in autographs and give usually a warranty and have to lose a reputation. The only by hundred percent safe way not to be fooled on falsifications is to be given directly from the celebs an autograph! And one saves also still another quantity of money!
© Second Channel of German Television 2