Most estate sales are run by reputable folks who are on the up and up and wouldn’t dream of defrauding an unsuspecting shopper. Unfortunately, there are a small percentage of tag sales that are less than trustworthy.
There are plenty of tales of events that advertise to the public promising all sorts of objects like Baccarat crystal or Mont Blank pens for sale, and then when the unsuspecting folks arrive looking for these collectible trinkets–they are not there or are claimed to be sold. These bait-and-switch events attempt to lure crowds in to try to make a sale on mediocre goods that don’t actually exist.
In other in instances, tag sales are advertised in the newspaper as the estate of 90 year old granny with a lifetime of goodies in the attic. When you get there, you realize that it’s no such thing and they are selling junky goods.
Another downer in terms of phony estate sales, are sellers trying to pass off bogus items for the real deal. If you see a too good to be true price on a supposed Tiffany lamp, you can pretty well be sure it’s a counterfeit. Antique furniture is another place where scams run large because most buyers don’t know what they are looking for to ensure its authenticity. You can be sure that older furniture wasn’t put together with glue, staples, particle board or shiny screws. It’s important to educate yourself on the construction of furniture through time so you can attempt to determine real value.
Designer items such as hand bags, wrist watches and jewelry are unfortunately something that are commonly fakes at estate sales, so beware. A lot of time the seller is unsuspecting and doesn’t realize it herself. Be sure to ask for a certificate of authenticity or a receipt whenever possible to confirm that a designer item is authentic.
Art is also something that can notoriously be forged, so take care when buying it at an estate sale. Unless the claim is backed by some authoritative proof to show evidence that the painting truly is Great Uncle Frank’s Jackson Pollack painting, you better be ready to bring a professional along with you to validate the piece for you. In some instances, you can buy the piece with the ability to return it if it is discovered to not be what it has been advertised.
If you want to avoid being scammed, go to estate sales run by highly regarded estate sales liquidators who have insurance and are bonded to protect their business. You can check the Better Business Bureau or references to ensure the sales company is on the up and up. When attending an estate sale run by the family, things certainly get trickier and you open yourself up a bit more for the opportunity for fraud. Remember, if your gut tells you something doesn’t exactly feel right, then it’s probably a good time to walk away before spending your hard earned cash.
If you are a collector of a particular item such as vintage glass, jewelry or art, then make it your business to educate yourself so that you can spot fakes quickly or bring an experienced friend with you to help you out. Don’t just buy an estate sale without checking carefully that the item is truly what it is!