FBI: Cubs fans should be wary of phony memorabilia

  • Cubs-related merchandise is sure to be hot at this weekend's big sports memorabilia show in Rosemont. But, the FBI warns, fans should be cautious when buying purportedly autographed or "game worn" items.

    Cubs-related merchandise is sure to be hot at this weekend's big sports memorabilia show in Rosemont. But, the FBI warns, fans should be cautious when buying purportedly autographed or "game worn" items. Daily Herald File Photo, 2013

 
Updated 11/18/2016 6:09 AM

It's a great time to be a Cubs fan.

It's also a great time to be someone looking to scam a Cubs fan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The FBI is warning the former about the latter this week, as those who unscrupulously deal in the multibillion-dollar (yes, that's a "B" for "billion") sports memorabilia business could see this as the ideal time to take advantage of unsophisticated fans' excitement for player autographs, balls, game-worn jerseys and other items linked to the world champs.

"Do your homework before you purchase anything," FBI Special Agent Garrett Croon told us this week.

What kind of homework?

Special Agent Brian Brusokas, a member of the FBI's Art Crimes team, says anyone buying purportedly autographed items should compare them with known signatures of that player. If the seller claims the signature has been authenticated, buyers should research the authenticator and its qualifications.

Buyers of game-used items should pay close attention to details such as the stitching patterns used to affix nameplates and patches to the jersey. Buyers should know the seller's refund police and, if an item or deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, Brusokas said.

We have no reason to doubt that's really Mickey Mantle's signature, but the FBI is warning Cubs fans to be cautious when buying signed memorabilia and other merchandise from the Cubs championship season.
  We have no reason to doubt that's really Mickey Mantle's signature, but the FBI is warning Cubs fans to be cautious when buying signed memorabilia and other merchandise from the Cubs championship season. - Gilbert Boucher II | Staff Photographer
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The FBI, which works with the major sports leagues to keep counterfeit merchandise off the market, says consumers can find more tips at fbi.gov, ic3.gov and mlb.com/authentication.

Who's a good dog?

Lake County sheriff's canine Diesel is a very good dog. He and his partner, Deputy Craig Sommerville, were given the PAWS of Distinction Award this week by the Chicago Crime Commission for their work.
Lake County sheriff's canine Diesel is a very good dog. He and his partner, Deputy Craig Sommerville, were given the PAWS of Distinction Award this week by the Chicago Crime Commission for their work. - Courtesy of Lake County Sheriff's Office

Lake County sheriff's canine Diesel is a very good dog. It's been a banner November so far for Diesel and his partner, Deputy Craig Sommerville.

Last week, the pair helped Wauconda police locate an armed and suicidal man who was fleeing from officers. Diesel tracked the man's scent across several residential blocks and an overgrown field in time for him to receive potentially lifesaving treatment for serious self-inflicted wounds and before he could further harm himself or anyone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Then, on Wednesday, the Chicago Crime Commission awarded Diesel and Sommerville its PAWS of Distinction Award for their work that has "enhanced the quality and capacity of our criminal justice system."

Diesel, 3, and Sommerville have been partners since completing an intensive eight-week training program together in June 2015.

"Through their time together on the streets of Lake County, they have proven to be forces to be reckoned with," the commission said.

Sheriff joins bail critics

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is joining other county and state officials in calling for changes in the bail system.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is joining other county and state officials in calling for changes in the bail system. - Associated Press, 2011

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has joined the litany of county and state officials calling for a dramatic overhaul of Illinois' bail system.

And he's adding a unique twist to the discussion.

Dart this week announced his office is launching the Hardship Project to help small-time offenders stuck in jail because they can't post low-level bail.

Think of it as a gofundme for jail inmates.

Here's how it works: the sheriff's office will post on its website information about people locked up on minor offenses because they can't post a bail of $1,000 or less. Anyone who wants to make a donation to help the person make bail can email Hardship.Project@cookcountyil.gov to make arrangements.

Rest assured, officials say, a contribution won't be putting a dangerous criminal back on the streets. Inmates with such small bail amounts are almost always nonviolent offenders facing less serious charges, said sheriff's spokeswoman Sophia Ansari.

Dart is just the latest county leader to say the current bail system unfairly punishes low-income residents and is needlessly costly for taxpayers.

'Rising star' honored

Prospect Heights police officer Michael Smith was named the department's 2016 Officer of the Year.
Prospect Heights police officer Michael Smith was named the department's 2016 Officer of the Year. - Courtesy of Prospect Heights Police Department

Officer Michael Smith -- labeled a rising star by Prospect Heights police leaders -- has been named the city's 2016 Police Officer of the Year.

A member of the city's police force since 2012, Smith serves numerous roles in the department, ranging from traffic crash reconstruction expert to tourism district officer. He also volunteers for the Prospect Heights Police Association's Summer Youth Outreach Program and Special Olympics causes.

"Officer Smith is part of a core group of young officers whose personal commitment to excellence through community service is an example for us all," Chief Al Steffen said.

Moving up

A big congrats to newly promoted Lake County sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Covelli, a former deputy and detective who these days serves as the department's spokesman. As anyone who's covered crime and law enforcement in the suburbs can attest, Covelli is among the best in the business.

• Got a tip? Have a question? Please email Charles Keeshan and Susan Sarkauskas at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com, or call our tip line at (847) 427-4483.

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