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Home arrow Forgery News arrow Isitreal Expert Team Meeting 2009

Isitreal Expert Team Meeting 2009 Print E-mail
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Monday, 14 December 2009

Isitreal Expert Team Meeting 2009

A meeting of the Isitreal expert team took place on 8 November, 2009 in Filderstadt near Stuttgart. Markus Brandes and Rolf Ramseier from Switzerland took part along with Florian Noller, Peter Müller, Ralf Hahn and Andreas Wiemer from Germany. The most important topics of discussion at the meeting were the current and future format of the web platform, cooperation with eBay, the civil lawsuit of the Schmolt auction firm against a well-known collector and distributor, attacks against Isitreal, and the future composition of the expert team.

Following the cooperation in 2005 between eBay Germany and Isitreal on which eBay had published the “eBay Autograph Guide” wrote by Isitreal, the relationship between the counterfeit department at in the USA and Isitreal became deeper and more productive. Since 2007, eBay has implemented numerous projects to prevent forgers from dealing in false autographs through eBay. According to information available to us, several hundred sellers have since been barred from dealing via eBay – primarily from the USA, but also on international eBay sites. In addition, thousands of auctions were forcibly ended. The situation in the intervening years has continued to improve. Now thanks to eBay's efforts, several areas of autograph trade, including US sports and space flight, are now nearly free of fraud. However, the percentage of falsified autographs in the entertainment industry remains very high, and several very large dealers have been barred from future trade. In addition, very active participation by serious sellers has greatly improved the situation. Isitreal continues to put forth effort to strengthen cooperation with eBay, and hopes for future participation by eBay as well in using available means to prevent and inhibit autograph forgery.

Regarding the lawsuit against a German collector currently pending by Schmolt auction house (see article: Vom Paulus zum Saulus ?! - Strafverfahren gegen langjährigen Autogramminsider), the Isitreal team wishes to clarify the following: it was very clear upon publication of the catalogue, according to all members of the core team, that the autographs on offer contained a surprisingly high percentage of obviously fraudulent autographs. These concerns were shared with Axel Schmolt as well as the other team members, such that Isitreal was quickly informed of the scale of possible fraud, and was able to offer clarification on the issue for Schmolt Auction House. At the time, not only did we not know, we didn't even suspect who might turn up as the provider of the set of questionable autographs – ultimately someone who consulted with us occasionally since 2005, and who at the time was very active in our and other German forums in the fight against fraud. But even if we had known the name, it would not have changed a thing: Isitreal would have intervened in the Schmolt affair just as insistently.

The Isitreal team has decided to only work in the future with the six experts who make up the core team in Germany and Switzerland and to waive the cooperation with the auxiliary experts who were previously involved in consultation with the team. We like to thank Stephan Daniel, Tom Kramer, Brandon Mysinger and Jim Stinson for their support and educational work in the past. The collector biographies of the six experts who will remain in the future will be updated and extended. In additional, the Isitreal team will meet every 2 years henceforth.

Because the public forum provided by Isitreal regularly led to often intense discussion and accusations from both serious and non-serious collectors and traders, Isitreal has decided to close the forum. In recent years, discussions in the forum devolved into lawsuit threats from the USA, libel, threats of sanctions from international collector clubs, and a massive hacker attack in 2007 on the website In addition, Markus Brandes' work at Isitreal seems to have provoked the hacker attack on the international website of the German work group of autograph collector AdA1986 early in 2009 - a website he maintained. However, in order to give visitors and readers of Isitreal the option of expressing themselves, all news articles will now have a comment field (Write Comment) where it is possible to offer one's reactions and discuss the content.

The Isitreal team is agreed that the strategy followed to date – based on clarification and information to fight fraud in the autograph trade – remains effective and appropriate, and will continue on this path as consistently as possible in the future.

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