Ahead of the memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna fake autographs of the the Laker great are flooding the internet, according to collectors.
Experts in the field of autograph authentication say it is wise to get help from experts when navigating what is real or likely fake.
Steve Grad, the principal authenticator at Beckett Authentication Services, says he has not seen this many fake signatures flood the marketplace since Michael Jackson died. Grad says dozens of fake signatures of the Laker great are popping up online at eye-popping prices.
One signed jersey with a questionable signature was going for $5,600.
Grad says another jersey with an allegedly fake Kobe signature went for almost $10,000.
"This is the type of stuff we are constantly seeing," he said.
Many of the items are on eBay.
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"Forgeries have been rampant in autographs. You can avoid them," said Steve Cyrkin. He runs Autograph Live, a consumer website for collectors and buyers of celebrity memorabilia. "There are lots of ways to avoid them."
Cyrkin says you can spot the fakes by doing your research on what's out there and who is selling.
"Is it from somebody who suddenly has three, four, five Kobe's for sale and you check their solds on eBay and they never sold one or they had one six months back or something like that?" he said. "That's a good sign."
Also, watch for sudden price spikes and use a payment with protection for buyers like Paypal.
"Contact PayPal first or if it's on eBay , contact eBay and PayPal," Cyrkin said. "They both have good protection."
On its website, eBay describes its free program for buyers called eBay authenticate, where they say some sellers are vetted by independent experts.
They also say products, like luxury watches, jewelry, and handbags, and collectibles like coins, comics, and sports cards are verified for authenticity.
eBay did not respond to a request about its vetting process for Kobe Bryant items by deadline.
"Obviously Kobe Bryant was a huge figure not just in Los Angeles but really across the world," Grad said. "The most important thing when someone passes away is to calm down because people are getting emotional and that's when people are getting ripped off."
There are also companies like the one Grad works for that will review an item and put their expert eyes on it. The cost for this service starts at $10.
But, experts say, you should not rely on certificates of authenticity, or COAs. Often times they are not guarantees, It goes back to researching who you are buying from.
Here are a few authenticators: