Sports Collectors Digest

'BIGGEST THREAT TO OUR INDUSTRY'

Editor’s note: In some cases, it was imperative to allow certain sources to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, to be able to make the story complete.

Scott Mahlum sits down each day and spends a good hour scouring sports memorabilia websites.

The owner of Mill Creek Sports in Mill Creek, Wash., is looking for items of three specific players: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and former Seattle Mariners stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki. With Mill Creek Sports owning exclusive autograph rights to those superstars, Mahlum is making sure there aren’t any items being sold that weren’t signed by his clients. Mahlum calls his daily monitoring “protecting our product.”

Most days, Mahlum’s online searches come up empty. That’s a good thing. But one day in 2014, Mahlum found some matches. That was a bad thing.

Wilson items were red hot in the weeks following the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014. While perusing the web, Mahlum discovered some Wilson items on a "popular auction house" that didn’t look familiar to him.

“Some of the photos had our Russell Wilson hologram on them,” Mahlum told Sports Collectors Digest. “They were images we had never had signed.”

At the time, that auction house had unknowingly sold about 250 Wilson items in open auctions. It was an entire gamut of signed Wilson items: full-size replica Seahawks helmets, mini replica Seahawks helmets, full-size footballs and a variety of 8x10 photos.

“It didn’t make sense because a lot of times they were selling them for less than what we wholesale them for,” said Mahlum, whose company has had an exclusive with Wilson since 2013. “It didn’t make sense that somebody could keep doing that and lose money. They were just bombing away on them.”

Mill Creek Sports is currently selling Wilson autographed helmets and footballs for $400. Back in 2014, Wilson items were priced at $300.

The forger would sell the Wilson

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