Panini’s 2018 Illusions Football Autograph COA Mistake Continues To Screw Unknowing Collectors

In 2018 Sports Card Info helped to shed some light on this issue.  Even though not much has changed since the initial story broke, I believe its important to remind people that this continues to be a MAJOR problem in the hobby.  Especially when a collector was recently screwed out of $400.

On February 28, 2020 a Tom Brady 2018 Panini Illusions Living Legends Autograph sold for $393.  Too bad the autograph is a complete fake.  Panini made the huge mistake of printing the message “THE AUTOGRAPH IS GUARANTEED BY PANINI AMERICA, INC.” on the back of a bunch of cards from 2018 Illusions that were never intended to be signed.  But yet these unsigned cards with the autograph COA on the back somehow found their way into the product.  We’ve seen this error popup on the Living LegendsIllusionists, and Mystique inserts.

Panini allowing cards to ship out with their autograph COA yet lacking the actual signature itself opens the door to all types of fraud.  And that’s exactly what we’re seeing here.  Loser scammers will sign the athlete’s signature themselves, and then attempt to pass it off as the real thing.  Because that COA is printed on the back people will believe its authentic.

As you can clearly see the autograph here is on-card.  MAJOR RED FLAG as the authentic cards use stickers.  Another indicator is the absence of a serial number.  It should be #’ed/10 or 1.

Panini simply stamped their autograph COA on too many cards here.  Some were meant for legitimate pack-inserted autographs.  Others received the autograph COA by mistake, and are just basic unsigned inserts.

Tom Brady 2018 Panini Illusions Living Legends insert with a fake autograph (front)

Tom Brady 2018 Panini Illusions Living Legends insert with a fake autograph (back)

This is what an authentic example should look like:

Pick A COA, Any COA

This has to be one of the most disturbing trends I’ve found.  Individuals are now selling COA’s that are from or look like they are from reputable companies.  All a forger would have to do is purchase a few of these COA’s that look like they are from Steiner and then forge the autograph.  Each of these COA’s comes with a hologram containing the Steiner logo.  I’m wondering what happened to the actual items these COA’s belong to – if they existed at all.  Forgers could do this for all reputable authenticators within The Hobby.  A good portion of the time COA’s from companies like Steiner will contain serial numbers that match a hologram placed on the item.  All it would take is for some uneducated collector not to realize the serial numbers don’t match.  For many, they just see the Steiner name and that would be enough.  COA’s for autographed items is just one area forgers will use these things.  They could also be used for rare cards that could be purchased directly from the manufacturer such as blank backs, proofs, etc.

I don’t think eBay should allow sellers just to sell COA’s in an auction.  Why in the hell would someone want to purchase one if there isn’t an item to go with it.  The whole situation is setup to cater towards a counterfeiter.   Of coarse eBay won’t stop them because they want their fees.  Collectors have to be so careful when purchasing an autographed piece of memorabilia.  My personal favorite authenticator in The Hobby is Mounted Memories.  I have a Dan Marino autographed photo that contains a COA from them.  If you visit Marino’s official website, everything he has autographed comes with a COA from Mounted Memories.  At one time, Marino was on the Board of Mounted Memories too.

Nothing can ever be as good as meeting the athlete in person.  Sure it may cost a bit more, but you can be 100% sure the autograph you received is real.  Remember, if its too good to be true, it probably is.


Another Note On Score Board COA’s

Early this morning I received a comment on the post I wrote yesterday dealing with Score Board COA’s.  Apparently that COA with the McGwire “autograph” isn’t plastered on the back of the card.  Instead its totally separate, which is completely worse.  What stops someone from making their own counterfeit autograph and then taking a crappy COA that doesn’t mention the player’s name to go along with it?  Thats right.  Nothing.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Stay far away from items certified by Score Board.


Any counterfeiter could use this COA for almost anything.

Score Board’s COA Is No Better Than NSA’s

Its 2:00 in the morning.  You just got home from a long night of bad decision making.  Whats the next thing you should do?  Thats right, turn on Shop at Home and see what crap the people at The Score Board, Inc are selling.

Take a look at this piece of junk made by The Score Board, Inc back in the 90’s.  This Mark McGwire Diamond Kings “autograph” is numbered one-of-one and the seller is looking to get around $100.00 for it.  Too bad this thing is fake.  It would make one heck of an authentic card.  McGwire’s rookie may have gone down to nothing, but his relics and autographs are very collectible.  I wouldn’t trust Score Board’s COAs anymore than NSA’s.  Reading the COA they plastered on the back doesn’t state McGwire’s name anywhere.  Yeah, its certified alright.  Its a certified autograph of who is the real question.  Stay far away from Score Board’s stuff!!!  Its a good thing this company went out of business.



Tom Brady and the NSA

The other day I received an e-mail from a reader telling me they purchased a Tom Brady Authentic 1 of 1 NSA #453358 jersey card on eBay and wanted to know if I could tell him what it might be worth.  I have never been a fan of NSA (National Sportscard Authenticator) because there cards just don’t seem legit.  To start off, he said that his card was numbered 1 of 1 but somehow on eBay there is another card just like it with a different serial number on the case.  Thats the first red flag.  The COA on the back shows me another red flag.  The COA states:

This item has been certified by an NSA representitive.  Each NSA Sports Product will contain a unique serial number and a certificate of authenticity containing the matching certification number.  Any tampering will invalidate the guarantee of authenticity.

When I read a COA, I like to see what it says and then I look to see what it doesn’t say.  Nowhere within the COA does it state that the piece of memorabilia was used by the athlete.  This is why I stay far away from cards like this.  Their COA’s leave a lot of holes within the statements.  NSA cards barely sell and when they do its not for much.  I’m starting to see these more and more.  Usually I would find them online, but at the last few shows I have attended I’ve seen more.  About 7 months ago I wrote a post stating how NSA would give $1,500.00 to someone if they sent in a card that was determined to be counterfeit.  In my opinion, NSA is right up there with GEM GRADING, PRO Grading and WCG.  I plan on sending an e-mail to the company to see what they have to say about their COA’s.