Report: Sluggers Help FBI in Sting
NEW YORK (AP) - Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Tony Gwynn worked with the FBI to help catch forgers who were selling faked items in the sports memorabilia market, according to a broadcast report.
The athletes helped the FBI spot fake signatures during a two-year undercover FBI investigation known as ``Operation Bullpen,'' ABC's ``20/20'' reported.
Gwynn told ``20/20'' he went to the FBI three years ago after discovering the San Diego Padres' own gift shop was victimized by suppliers of fake baseball memorabilia.
``As I'm walking in, I'm looking in the window, and they had a nice display of Padre baseballs, and 8x10s with other players,'' Gwynn said. ``And I'm looking, and I started looking at the signatures. I mean, every one in there - every single one - was a forgery.''
The FBI then got Sosa and McGwire involved as well, the report said, and it has several tractor trailer loads of forgeries from around the country.
According to ``20/20,'' authorities estimate faked sports memorabilia have become a $500 million scam in recent years.
``There are so many unsuspecting people out there who are getting ripped off, they probably don't know if they're getting ripped off,'' Gwynn said. ``They have got balls and pictures and bats sitting on shelves and in cabinets and ... it hasn't probably dawned on them that it might not be real.''
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