Prices are up for many comic books. The comic book market place is booming even with Covid-19 constraints. Times should be good. Opportunities sometimes draw out bad individuals. I wanted to point out some current comic scams you should avoid.
Someone died and I want to sell their books
The first scam is the most common. We have all heard the story that an owner has died and a friend or relative needs to sell their books. I deal with this situation all the time. To avoid potential problems I use my Avoidance Information Detector (A.I.D.). I ask very direct questions and gauge the seller’s answers to determine if I want to proceed with the deal.
Recently I met a potential seller inside Starbucks at Target. At the start, I did not like how she pushed the process. A major problem was that she was in a hurry and wanted me to pay without really looking at the books. BING. Next, she said she did not know the value of these books. As a result, I gave her an initial price I would be willing to pay. She said that price was too low. If she did not know the value of the books, how did she know my offer was too low? BING.
In addition, she then stated she had to be paid in cash to make things easier for her. BING BING. Finally, I asked her if she had any documentation stating she was the person authorized to sell these books if I were to pay with cash? She got mad at me for trying to protect myself by asking for proper documentation right after she said she needed to be paid in cash to protect herself! The seller got up and stated she had nothing and told me in no uncertain terms I was wasting her time.
In brief, when someone is in charge of an estate or trust they should provide you documentation proving they are in charge of the estate or trust. In addition, trustees and personal representatives hardly ever want to be paid in cash. They always need to document their transactions.
You are in possession of stolen merchandise if you buy any collection from an unauthorized seller. The police will take your books and you may never see the money you paid for the comics again. Court documents usually have a seal. If a document looks fishy contact the court before you buy.
eBay charges too much in fees
In my eBay account, I saved some key comic books I wanted to review in the future. I received a private message shortly thereafter. The seller was asking me if I was interested in the book I had saved. Of course, I was. I then received a reply with a private email address and a request to contact them there. BING.
I sent an email to that account identifying myself as the person interested in the book. I received a response indicating that this person needed to sell their books but hated the high price that eBay was going to charge. They offered me a deal. I would pay a lower price outside eBay so that they would not have to pay the fees and I could get the book for a lower price. It was a Win-Win situation. All I had to do is wire them my money and I would get my key book. BING BING.
eBay builds the cost to protect both parties into the fees they collect on transactions using their platform. If a problem exists they will TRY to rectify it. Here I was going to go off-platform and trust someone to send me a book after I wired my funds to an account they provided. That violates eBay’s terms and conditions to use their site.
Another person told me years ago at a comic show a story of how they did something similar. The buyer paid a reduced fee in a private sale initiated on eBay. He wired the funds but the books never arrived. The email and name the seller provided were to a fake account as well. eBay did not help him because he did not use their services. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true…
A seller listed the item knowing eBay fees in advance. Be wary of leaving eBay to complete the transaction. The deal that they offer you comes at a price more important than savings. The true cost is protection from a potentially bad deal.
Selling in the Field
In preparation for this story, I was reminded of an experience someone told me in private. I will never reveal their name, but I was told I could tell their story. The seller used Facebook to sell some of their books because it was cost-effective years ago before “waffles”. They never had a problem, so my collection of cautionary tales fell on deaf ears. This individual was selling some unslabbed key Silver and Bronze Age books. An online buyer seemed interested in a few of their books.
The buyer wanted to know if he could meet him in a parking lot for safety. The person showed up on time but brought a friend. He then said it was cold but could he see the books in his car. DING
Comic book buyers will walk through fire to get a hot book. If a person was willing to drive a half-hour in the cold why would he not go inside the mall to do the exchange? Instead, he wanted to do it outside in a parking lot. He showed him the first book and he said he might be interested. When the more valuable of the books was handed to him the driver drove off.
The seller was safe, but he could not see the license plate and could only describe the vehicle make and color. It turns out that the Facebook profile was a fake account. The three “friends” this person had were only friends with each other. He did his research too late and he did not have his books insured.
Get the name of the person you are dealing with in these sales. Conduct your business in a safe setting like inside a police station. Finally, not all comic collectors are the Sheldon Cooper type. Some can be dangerous. Burner phones, stolen and or fraudulent IDs, and the ability to present a deal too good to be true are tools of their trade. Protect yourself at all times.
How to protect yourself
One of the biggest things I suggest is never trying to score a deal where the price is your safety. Bring a friend. Conduct business in person as much as possible in a safe location. If you are selling books go into a police station. If the person does not want to go inside a police station it should set off a red flag. Before buying books, contact your credit card servicing company and ask them what protections you have for online sales. The most important thing I can say is to remember there may be only 50 copies of a book in the CGC census, but there is only one of you on the planet. Be safe out there.
Be sure to subscribe to GoCollect’s Youtube Channel for all the latest info!