Until I stumbled upon the fraud committed by AutographsAmerica.com, I foolishly believed that foreign nations were Americans greatest enemy when it came to scams perpetrated upon our citizens via the internet.
AutographsAmerica.com has somehow managed to operate with apparent immunity from Federal Law Enforcement for quite some time. I know for a fact, there has been many complaints filed against this company by victims of forgery, and yet they still continue to sell this garbage and make millions.
In fairness, they certainly aren't the only internet memorabilia site selling fakes, but they are certainly a powerful force in the forgery business. Recently I read an article regarding an elderly couple in Louisiana that were arrested for selling fake artwork. The artwork sold had a value that was a fraction of what AutographsAmerica.com has sold, yet this couple in their late 70's are being prosecuted while Brian Burkel lives in luxury.
If this type of immunity bothers you, I suggest you write your local Congressman or the Department of Justice and put a stop to it.
My name is Lee Rekman, I am from PerthAustralia and was given your email address from another Aussie that got scammed by the Fraud 'Brian Burkel' - Autographs America.
Here is my story in brief if you are interested.
In 2009 I purchased 4 signed Metallica vinyl records all from the 1980's - signed by: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton (RIP) (all on separate occasions) from Autographs America's Online store (www.autographsamerica.com).
The last purchased album i received from Autographs America was in October 2009. This was for the Metallica LP: master of puppets. When you visit the Autographs America's website, they only show the front of the LP's and thats all. When i received this Master of Puppets LP i knew straight away that this was a fake and i can prove it!
The Master of Puppets LP i received was a UK Release : Music for Nations MFN 60 DM - Gatefold Design with 2 x 12" LP's. This actual release was released in 1987. Cliff Burton who was the bass player for Metallica at the time, sadly passed away in 1986 - so there was no way possible he could have risen from the dead just to sign this album.
Having this knowledge of Metallica's history, i emailed Autographs America with my concern over the Authenticity - with a reply from both 'Alex Bison - Customer Service' and 'Brian Burkel' (who are probably the same person) owner of Autographs America saying i was 100% wrong on this issue.
Here is one of the emails from Brian Burkel to me:
We 100% disagree with your conclusions, as we previously stated, and you are talking to one of the owners, who is personal friends with Lars Ulrich, and Sean Kinney of Alice in Chains. I know a lot of band members, and I got this item signed. You are wrong. I'm the bald-headed guy you see in the pictures on the home page with Lars, and others. Please do not continue to insult me any longer. You are dead wrong about this item, and we're not going to keep wasting our time arguing with you.
Good luck on your endeavors.
Best regards, Brian Burkel
I was devistated to find the signed Metallica albums i had in my collection were fakes from Autographs America - I have approached the owners of several well know Metallica Fan based websites for there official word on the release of this Album in question - and all have come back with 1987 being the year of release.
I have been trying to get my money back from Autographs America - but with no luck as yet, I dont see it happening - for me now, its about the principal of the matter and letting as many people know about this guy and to avoid his website..
All my emails to Autographs America have been in a friendly tone trying to get to the bottom of this, but that has got me no where - now after extensive research into Brian Burkels business it is obvious I have been had and I plan to bring this guy down!
I honestly believe that Autographs America has 'some' legit / authentic signed items from various celebs that he is selling online - but not everything is Authentic as he states!
Brian Burkel is a fraud - there is enough evidence out there to prove it, the sooner this guy is out of business and back to being someones bitch in Jail the better!.
Every purchase i made from Autographs America came with there crappy Cert of Authenticity which says Autographs America on it.
If you can help me out in anyway Mike and how we can bring this Fraud to Justice please let me know. My story above is quite brief - if you need the full story with all email correspondence mate - more than happy to send everything through..
I really hope to hear from you Mike
Thanks for your time
Over the past year I have purchased about 15 signed albums from Autographs America all of which have been sold as authentic and with a Certificate of Authenticity.
I have recently discovered that this company may be a scam and that the items they are selling could be forgeries.
I am deeply concerned as I have spent about $6,000 with this company for my collection. I feel like I may have been ripped off. Can you help or give me any advice?
I made a purchase from Autographsamerica.com for 2 grateful dead signed albums,1 nine inch nails poster,and 1 phish drum head.I would like to stick it to these people but i dont know how.What do I do?
To whom it may concern,
I am troubled by the news that Autographs America is thought to be nothing but corrupt. I have recently bought two guitars from the owner, Brian. After many personal and direct phone conversations with Brian, I bought an Elvis and a Beatles signed guitars.
Just yesterday I contacted Brian with respects to the Elvis guitar.
The reason I phoned him was that last Saturday I had a personal meeting with Elvis's best friend Joe Espisito. Joe is considered the most reputable person on earth regarding anything to do with Elvis. ( He spent 20 years, 1958 until death, with him. ) On Saturday, I brought my guitar and certificate of authenticity to my meeting to further verify its validity.
After close examination, Joe immediately said that the signature is a fake. Even though he does not authenticate Elvis items for a living he has been asked many times over the years to do so and has been proven correct on every occasion.
My conversation with Brian went as follows: 100% of everything that I sell is from reputable dealers and collectors. Also, an opinion from anyone is not enough to return the guitar and get a refund. Not even a person as knowledgeable as Joe Espisito. He stated that I need more defining evidence. And that my contract with him suppurts his position.
Forturnately, I never signed any such contract with Brian or any of his companies. I only dealt directly with him over the phone.
I would appreciate an e-mail from somebody or a phone call 916-xxxxxxxxxxx so that I can participate in some sort of action.
My girlfriend just bought me a AC/DC signed black ice album that I think is forged. I have met 2 of the artist and they have signed items for me in the past and the signatures are slightly different. What can be done about this and what do I have to do?
I recently purchased some items from Autographs America that seemed legitimate at the time of purchase. Upon closer inspection, they seem to be less than real - and after reading this article I'm even more suspicious:
I'm copying my good friend Andrew who has also made some purchases from this company through the years. Please let me know if we can still get our items legitimately authenticated.
I received an e-mail from forgery experts telling me that Autographs America are a fraudulent company. I have purchased several s and feel very ashamed of what I've done to support this Brian character if he is indeed a fraud.
What should I do at this point? I am considering contacting my credit card company American Express to tell them and see if they can investigate and refund me my money for the $1000.00 I have given to this crook.
Any suggestions would be helpful.
I am ashamed to say I may have been scammed by this company.
I only ordered 2 Michael Jackson/Jackson Five items on 26/6/06 total : $197.00
I realised with the 50% discount and searching the web the price seemed too cheap and saw the reports about 'fake items'.
I am also concerned from the clauses they have in their rules about returning items saying you agree that the authentication of their own services is bonafide yet if you try to return you have to prove from another authority that items purchased are fake. So a bit of a contradiction in terms. Wish I had read that before rushing in and purchasing!
As I only just placed the order I immediately asked for a refund using their email requesting my order to be cancelled and a refund made. I also tried their phone number but did no get through. Is this a conn??
No reply has been received and the order has not been cancelled as requested. I am concerned they may have taken the money and still will not refund as they send out next day.
Please can you advise. Does this sound like the same company they are located Ravensvale???
I am not well off and located in UK I cannot afford to lose my money to rip off merchants how many other complaints with this company have you got???
I said to Paypal I cannot understand why they are allowing this company to operate...they are still taking money for them and making money from them do I have any rights with a Paypal payment???
I bought two Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band autographed records (Nebraska and Cover Me). Two Led Zeppelin (In through the Out Door, and Song Remains the Same). One Rolling Stones (Dirty Work) and one George Harrison (Gone Troppo).
These were claimed to be 100% authentic, and I sold one of the Springsteen ones as authentic :-( . I spent nearly $1,000 i believe and I'm seriously angered. I really donít have the money to actually file a suit against this company, I'm only a college student. Any help would be grand!
I have just read your reports concerning the rip off scam by autographs america and felt compelled to get in touch with you. I have just purchased 2 albums from this company and 1 drum head, supposedly hand signed by various jazz musicians.
The 2 albums have arrived and Iím now waiting for the drum head but after reading the reports my heart sank and now Iím wishing I hadnít bothered at all. I have looked into the whole 'COA' thing online (wish i had before purchase!) and now realise if the items are forged then they are operating through a loop hole in the law which just isnít right.
I read that you can maybe help me to see if the items I purchased are authenticate which now seems highly likely. If I could get some help with this it would be very much appreciated.
Thank you for your time, hopefully hear from you soon,
I have had dealings with this company over the last two days and believe they have ripped me off. The item they sent came in a broken frame that was not what was represented in the sale, and when I asked to have it replaced, they refused.
Now, after doing more research, I believe that my autographed item is a fake. Upon further questioning of the "customer service" rep, I have been threatened with legal action.
I saw an ad on the ripoff report website about a class action suit against them and I would like more information.
I purchased a signed guitar from Ebay that was originally from Autographs America. I believe the guitar to be fake and got in touch with Brian who said he had the guitar signed in person. I asked him to get a sworn affidavit and he supplied me with a promissory note to back up his story (copy attached). I still believe this item is fake. Living in Australia it is a little hard to help the cause but I will do anything possible to get rid of this guy.