It’s Time for Collectors to Cancel PSA

Joe Orlando doesn't care for you

If ever there was a National Sports Collectors Convention to attend, 2019’s event was most definitely the one. With a huge scandal involving fraud and garnering attention from the FBI and non-hobby news outlets, you’d think the entire show would have been clouded by the controversy. Surely, someone would be out there ready to call out Beckett Grading Services, PSA, PWCC, Leaf Trading Cards, and known trimmers/shillers at the event, right? Well, from the looks of it, fair-weathered collectors have completely forgotten or flat out ignored the crimes committed against their own thanks to giveaways, free celebrity signings, a bizarre Gary Vee hero worship, social media selfie opportunities, and more.

Unfortunately, there are two groups battling it out over this card trimming scandal. The ones who have no investment and/or have accepted the truth and want JUSTICE brought to collectors who overpaid into the millions AND the suckers who have chosen to hide their heads in the sand in hopes that this scandal blows over quickly. That way, their trimmed and otherwise altered cards bounce back on the market and come close to being worth what they originally paid for. The latter group is currently busy defending PSA and other scammers like they are on these companies’ payroll, fighting it out on forums and social media or doing their best to change the story or distract from it with slow-pitch softball podcasts straight from the NSCC stage.

Recently, PSA Grading has taken to blocking dozens of collectors on Twitter who dare to call them out. This seems like a bad idea. If Beckett Media’s lack of response is now the norm, PSA’s silence should come as very little surprise. Clearly, these companies are counting on collectors having very short memories and moving on to whatever quasi celebrity has signed for Allen & Ginter and/or how many cards Vlad Guerrero Jr. used to pick out food from his teeth while signing. Simply put, many collectors just do not care about this serious case of fraud by multiple individuals and companies and I do not understand why. Instead of confronting the scammers at the National, collectors are more interested in finding below average deals and kissing Gary Vee’s multi-million dollar ass for almost an entire week.

Meanwhile, even though PSA is nowhere near making a public statement, they are being called out almost every single week on Blowout Cards Forum and now with this unbelievable letter from an alleged PSA insider. This leak comes at the very worst time possible for PSA because the feds and collectors are all scattered in one location at the National. Hilariously enough, PSA’s Twitter profile with over 12 thousand followers featured a trimmed and altered card for everyone to gaze at with the very unfortunate statement “When Cardboard Turns Into Gold”. The thing is, no truer words have ever been spoken.

You see, that Joe Namath card that was plastered on PSA’s Twitter (now removed due to public shaming) was once a PSA NM-MT 8 that sold for $149. Not quite gold, I know. After that sale, the card was altered and re-submitted to PSA’s “experts” and somehow came back a Gem Mint 10. Now, that $150 investment turned into a $19,135.20 sale! That’s gold if I’ve ever seen it. Just imagine how many times this scam has been perpetrated over and over again. Or even worse, imagine being the poor bastard who overpaid by almost 20k? Congratulations, you can afford to drop $20,000 on a trading card, clearly you have a much better life than I do buuuuuuut there’s something you should know.

You got robbed, man.

That’s gotta be a tough pill to swallow. I mean, if you can afford to drop 20K on a single football card you probably don’t care that you were ripped off but what if that purchase involved your life savings? Or if this purchase was your “dream card”? The trimming, card altering scumbags deserve to go down and so does PSA for running a scam that’s completely ruined a once innocent hobby. Sure, the “junk wax” era did a lot of damage but it’s nowhere near as bad as what PSA, BGS, and other grading companies have gotten away with. Bad people have gotten rich off collectors for way too long.

A perfect example is what I’m going through at this very moment. I need a 1999 Bowman Chrome Refractor of Josh Hamilton. There are graded versions selling from as low as $600 to as high as $2,000. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I don’t need to tell you that a Josh Hamilton rookie card shouldn’t be in the 4 digits. Unfortunately, in 1999, Topps wasn’t overproducing cards like they do now so Refractors carried a lot more weight than they do today. Hell, I remember buying a box of 1996 Topps Chrome and pulling just TWO refractors. That was it. Today, you’d get several different versions per box, along with certified autographs because collectors won’t buy otherwise.

That is perhaps why most collectors and dealers want this controversy to disappear. People have invested quite a bit into graded cards and do not want to lose money. It makes perfect sense. After all, there is a maniac holding on to a Josh Hamilton rookie card who thinks because he has a perfect grade given to them by these so-called “experts”, that someone is willing to pay a premium price. He thinks that way because for years and years collectors have been doing just that. Overpaying for a low-pop grade is the name of the game and it is why no one is ready to denounce PSA, BGS, and the rest of these con artists.

So enjoy the fun times at The National. Get in all your selfies with Ivan and Gary but remember that there are real victims out there. Collectors who trusted companies like PSA and PWCC and spent millions and millions based off that trust and are now left looking like idiots. I hope that as many as possible come forward and get their money back so that some of these companies are finally held accountable and ultimately go under, hopefully never to be seen or heard from again.

Also, I’m hoping someone out there has a raw Hamilton rookie card for a decent price.

11 comments

  1. Great post, Mario! I couldn’t agree with you more on this subject, unfortunately, I’m pretty pessimistic when it comes to this topic, I just don’t think that anything is going to change. Changing things requires effort, effort = work, work… hey, Gary Vee just said something! OK, so what were we talking about? 🙂

  2. Wowza. Not sure how people could live with themselves knowing that they’re scamming others. I’m one of those guys who try to stay positive… but it’s getting harder and harder to do so. It’s a good thing my second time around in this hobby was for sheer entertainment and not for investment purposes.

  3. if the Namath 8 was altered and became the Namath 10, wouldn’t the SN be higher, not lower?

  4. I would hope you would find someone better to collect than Josh Hamilton. Addict and child abuser.

  5. I don’t have a single Hamilton card. I wanted the specific card for the hobby significance of it.

    I collect someone much worse. His name is Jose Canseco.

  6. Great article. I went to the Convention this year and didnt stop at one of those places. Not to many people did from what i saw. PWCC was empty.

  7. HOW PSA RUINED MY LIFE and COLLECTING…
    An essay by an insignificant card collector:

    I have been an avid card collector since the age of 5. Due to financial and other personal reasons, I was forced to give up the hobby in the late 90’s through the early 2000’s but I always missed it. It was such an important part of my life and my childhood and I was devastated to have to give it up. But then in 2015, being a little bit more stable financially and mentally, I took up the hobby once again and that is when I discovered PSA Grading which only reinvigorated my excitement.

    That being said, I started a little business for myself. Nothing much but enough to keep my “addiction” going so that I wouldn’t lose “too much” money. I would send in cards to PSA every couple of months, get them back and sell them in order to be able to keep going AND have a little collection of my own again. I would get lucky every once in a while and score something worth maybe a couple of hundred dollars or so… just enough to put back into my business and keep my joy of the hobby going.

    Now, like most collectors, despite your love of the hobby itself, in the back of your mind you’re always hoping for that one BIG hit… something that would make it all worthwhile, something extraordinary… even LIFE CHANGING. For most people, that hit NEVER comes… but for me, it DID (or so I thought).

    I had sent out a batch of cards to PSA in early December of 2019. I was “suppose” to get them back some time in late March but due to the COVID19 outbreak, everything got put on hold and PSA became back-logged which I TOTALLY understood. Never complained, never questioned it, never bothered them in any way. I just sat patiently and waited for my order to complete.

    Then it finally happened, I received my grades and my cards and to my absolute jubilation, I received a grade of a PSA 10 on a 1970 Topps Carl Yastrzemski! Only the 3rd EVER graded a 10 in the last 50 years of the card’s existence. Can you imagine that? The joy and excitement I felt was overwhelming… especially in times like these.
    Doing some research, I found that of the 2 that had previously been graded, only one of them had sold and the last time it did was in 2018 through an auction/ broker called PROBSTEIN. As it turns out, PROBSTEIN is one of the biggest auction houses on Ebay AND their office is literally less than 4 minutes from where I live! So… I decided to give it to them to auction off figuring their exposure alone would help in the card’s sale… and it did! The card sold for $9200.00. I was ECSTATIC! You have NO idea how thrilled and overjoyed I was. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, $9000.00 is not a whole lot of money but for me, it truly would have been life changing. (Notice the operative word “would”)

    So the next day I received an email from PROBSTEIN with my final invoice breaking down the charges and such and what I was going to receive. Eagerly I submitted my financial information to Mr. Probstein in anticipation of what I though was going to be my reward for all my years of dedication to the hobby I once loved. Instead, I get an email from PROBSTEIN stating that PSA has demanded the return of the card for regrading and is rescinding the grade to what THEY said was a “typo.” Mind you, PSA swears ALL cards go through a vigorous grading process… step after step after step to get to the final grade and into your hands. Really? So in all these “steps” you mean to tell me NO ONE noticed that this might not be a 10? NO red flags went up? Nothing? That’s like telling someone, “Hey! You won the lottery! But wait, WE forgot to put the #8 ball into the machine before we pulled the numbers so… F&$K YOU!”

    Needless to say, I am heartbroken… devastated… humiliated beyond belief. Here I was joyfully telling everyone how I had finally got that “ONE BIG HIT,” only to have it snatched away from me in a heartbeat. And then when you try and talk to someone, they don’t even answer the phone and other than their generic email address, there’s nowhere to turn.

    The feeling in the pit of my stomach I can only compare to how I felt after losing my Grandmother and Mother. I am drained… I can’t sleep, I find myself bursting into tears and throwing up anything I try to eat. My love of the hobby and faith in PSA Grading is gone… absolutely Gone! I don’t even want to look at another baseball/ football card ever again and I am going to be looking into unloading my entire collection as quickly as possible. The disdain and absolute defeat and failure I feel is simply unfathomable. PSA has taken away the ONLY thing I really, truly enjoyed doing and broken my soul.

    These people are monsters… and this can happen to you!

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