(WMC-TV) - Collecting rare books is easier than ever with Internet auction sites, but they are more ripe than ever for fraud.
The popular authors anyone would love in their book collection are the same authors whose books were at the heart of a suspect's EBay scam.
"The suspect worked this scheme by purchasing unsigned first edition antiquarian books on EBay," said Al Herzog, U.S. Postal Inspector.
U.S. postal inspects say the suspect used more than 450 stamps to create near-perfect forgeries of the authors' signatures.
Buyers who were skeptical of the signatures started complaining to postal inspectors.
The inspectors checked the suspect's background.
"And that's how we were able to obtain the heat stampers," said Herzog.
Postal inspectors recommend always using credit cards, rather than debit cards, for online purchases. Credit cards offer dispute rights, making it easier to reverse a fraudulent charge.
Online shoppers should always research the seller before making a purchase, too.
If the seller is a scammer, your best research will be buyers' ratings of the seller on EBay or other auction sites.
If you can't establish a business name, license or legitimate reputation, check those ratings. They may be all the research you need.