LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Ever since Kobe Bryant's tragic death, the demand for his autograph has skyrocketed.
Buyers beware. Autograph authenticators say that at least 90 percent of the signed Kobe merchandise they're seeing right now is fake.
"It's sad, you know? You have people coming out of the wood work. To them, it's almost like easier than robbing a bank," said Tom Poon, an autograph authenticator at Professional Sports Authenticator in Santa Ana.
An eBay search by CBSLA found dozens of ads for merchandise allegedly signed by Kobe. A CBSLA producer met with Armando in Downey, who was selling an OC Weekly magazine allegedly signed by Kobe. He also claimed to have sold a signed ticket and jersey. Since the star's death, he's sold more than $20,000 worth of Kobe Bryant merchandise.
After paying the nearly $400 for the magazine, CBSLA took it to be authenticated, only to find out it's a mostly likely fake.
"The formation of the K does not look right," Poon said. "The transition from the O to the B to the E, the baseline is wrong...it's, in my opinion, a forgery attempting to copy Kobe's traits."
Armando claims the signature on the magazine is real, even though several experts have said otherwise.
"An expert opinion is an opinion," he said. "That's an opinion of the person."
When companies like PSA authenticate autographs, they provide a letter of authentication with an expert's opinion – an opinion that Poon said is based on "years of studying Kobe's signature."
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