eBay Seller in Pennsylvania Pleads Guilty to Forging Famous Author’s Signatures on Collectible Books

Forrest Smith, an eBay Seller in PA made over $300,000 selling fake signed first editions on eBay

Forrest Smith, an eBay seller from Reading, PA  plead guilty in federal court in Philadelphia today to a book fraud. He was forging famous authors’ signatures and selling the books on Ebay as signed original First Editions.

Prosecutor Mark Dubnoff says there were at least a thousand victims over several years and that Forrests scam netted over $300,000.

The scam was simplicity itself.  Smith would buy first-edition books by famous authors including Anne Rice, Truman Capote, James Michener, Norman Mailer, Tom Clancy, Tom Wolfe and others. He would then forge their signatures, and sell them at inflated prices on Ebay.

For example, Dubnoff says, Smith bought Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire for $46:

"He sold that same book, this time with a forged signature by Anne Rice in the book, for $566. His profit was more than 500 dollars on this one book."

He would purchase first-edition books by famous authors on his account and sell them on his wife’s account so buyers could not make the connection by looking at his feedback comments.

The prosecutor did not charge his wife. Although the prosecutor didn’t say, it looks like Forrest made some kind of plea deal.  We will have to wait until sentencing to see what this creep gets.

One of the stories the media has missed over the past couple years is eBay and PayPal’s success at reducing fraud on the site.  Fraud is now far less on eBay than any time in its history but I haven’t seen that anywher in the media.  Perhaps eBay’s new PR firm should start promoting that fact.  Stories like this don’t help but eBay could use this as an example of how they are having success cracking down

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