I read about this scam in a column by John Leszak, editor of Mekeel’s & Stamps magazine. Unfortunately, I can’t put my finger on the exact issue at the moment. But the story went something like this.

Some time ago (I think John said it was in the 1980s), a gentleman advertised that he would appraise your stamp collection for you and charge you a 5% fee of the total value for doing the appraisal. Collectors were very pleased when his appraisal for their run-of-the-mill collections came back with a very high appraised value. However, they were very disappointed when they went to sell their collection and no one would give them a figure even close to the appraised value.

This “appraiser” would inflate the value of the collection. Which, of course, inflated his 5% fee. Collectors gladly handed over fat checks for his “professional” appraisal. I’m sure their egos were equally inflated to find that they had such a valuable collection. But when it came time to sell, the reality was that the appraised value wasn’t even close to the true market value of the collection. What happened to the appraiser? He was long gone with their check. Collectors had no recourse to get their money back from him.

If you’re going to have an appraisal of your collection done, have it done by a known stamp dealer who offers appraisals. Don’t let some scam artist come to you and say, “You have a terrific collection there. Let me appraise it for you for a small fee.” Beware!

There are plenty of competent dealers who are members of the American Stamp Dealers Association and/or the American Philatelic Society. They uphold a code of ethics that all dealers must abide by. If you want an appraisal of your collection done, I highly suggest seeking out a member dealer from the ASDA or APS.