Sports Card Radio recently obtained an anonymous letter from a believed PSA insider. Any pictures or links were added only for context, and were not included in the original document.
Live from Santa Ana.
Every grader that works for a TPG (third party grader) signs a Non Disclosure Agreement. Every TPG operates like a criminal organization masquerading as a business. The fraud is so commonplace in daily activity it has become just regular business. From the top down everyone knows what’s going on.
The fraud didn’t start when “the card” was handed around the conference room table under the watchful eye of David Hall asking each person what it should be graded. Everyone agreed fully knowing its fraud replying “It’s an 8.”
"The Card" T206 Honus Wagner
The fraud didn’t start when there was a cart in the grading room filled with cards from the bosses collection that had a post-it attached with a note that read “60% of these will be 8’s or higher –DH”
David Hall - PSA Founder
No, I’m afraid the fraud was there at the inception and so were the trimmers. Gary Moser was there in the beginning, but he wasn’t a trimmer then. He did have vision though, he thought grading was the way of the future and was one of the original customers at PSA. I believe customer #3.
The PSA business struggled for many years to take traction with collectors. It wasn’t until the combo of the great homerun race between McGwire and Sosa in 1998 and Kenny Goldin pumping his product on Shop At Home television did the grading craze take off. The need to find so many high grade cards to sell in mass quantities lead to the first explosion in professional trimmers.
Originally seeing the corruption, Moser was upset and sold off his entire inventory of PSA graded cards. Disillusioned by PSA, he began selling high grade BCCG and other junk brands for the same price. He was banned from PSA because of this since he was still advertising as a PSA authorized dealer. A year or so later Gary came back around and was “on board” with the program and there were other TPG’s starting to sprout up. Still, Gary did not setup on Long Island for over a decade because he had burned so many people out there selling junk graded cards.
PSA is a business and in the early days when submissions would fall, in turn lay-offs would follow. Graders have looked the other way since the inception to keep submissions up. The problem only intensified after the homerun chase in 1998, with the new found popularity of grading the bulk of submissions were still from trimmers who could submit in mass quantity.
PSA CEO Joe Orlando
Still today, I would estimate trimmers account for the majority of cards submitted to TPG’s. At shows graders would often sit and discuss errors/issues with cards with the trimmers for hours. “It needs a fluffy edge.” After the shows business is still conducted over dinner and in the rooms. Trimmers would often submit a card on Friday discuss any issues with cards, then take them back and resubmit on Saturday. Repeat for Sunday. Graders just pretend every time a card is submitted it is a “fresh” card.
You have to remember the graders see the same people at the same shows every other week all across the country. They’re chummy, the trimmers often wine and dine the graders, even prostitutes are offered. In one case a PSA grader was taking straight up bribes around 2005. This was handled internally and not sure the public was ever aware, some dealers were aware of it though. The grader was aware of what cards were in the submitters order so if an order with those cards appeared on his desk the grader still knew who the submitter was despite any PSA policy that blinded the grader from the submitter’s name.
Below is a list of trimmers that have had extensive coaching directly from graders. Most have been working their scam for over 2 decades and still submit cards by the stack. Aside those listed here, every major auction I know of employs card doctors. I’d estimate 60% or higher of all cards graded by the perceived legitimate TPG’s have been altered. Yes the volume is that high from trimmers, the people listed below submit in the thousands yearly to maintain their price point. I know this is not everyone, maybe 25-50% of what I’d call professional trimmers. These are just the ones I know of.
Alex Mancini (Associates w/ Kevin Burge, Vinny Ho)
Anthony Fernando (Associated w/ Johnny Zhu)
Bill Goodwin (Associates w/ Rick Changie)
Brian Drent (Associates w/ Tony ____ (from Michigan))
Dave Bailey (Used to be a buyer for Dmitri Young. Associates w/ Joe Tuttle, Dmitri Young)
Gary Moser (Associates w/ Joe (Chet) Woods, Gerry Schwartz, Scottie Foreman)
Gerry Schwartz (Associates w/ Scottie Foreman, Gary Moser)
Jason Koontz (sp) (Purchased SCD’s grading equipment after their TPG service went defunct.)
Joe (Chet) Woods (Associates w/ Gary Moser)
Joe Tuttle (DaVinci – known for being able to completely replace a missing corner. Also purchased the original cutting blades from Topps during their garage sale. Associates w/ Dave Bailey, Dmitri Young)
Johnny Adams Jr. (Associates w/ Wayne Varner)
Johnny Zhu (Associated w/ Anthony Fernando)
Jon Perry (Worked at Lelands for a period)
JP Cohen (Also had previously served time for defrauding charity. Associates w/ Gary Tauscher, Dan Wulkin)
Kevin Burge (Associates w/ Alex Mancini, Vinny Ho)
Rick Changie (Retired, Associates w/ Bill Goodwin)
Scottie Foreman (I’ve always found SGC’s reputation among vintage collectors rather humorous as this is how the company was able to meet payroll for over a decade. For years SGC did not make money. Scottie was just the submitter, big brother had the magic touch. Associates w/ Gary Moser, Gerry Schwartz)
Tony ____ (from Michigan. Associates w/ Brian Drent)
Vinny Ho (Associates w/ Alex Mancini, Kevin Burge)