Sultan of Swindle? Police say man sold forged Babe Ruth ball

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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So this guy forges Babe Ruth’s signature on an old-looking baseball, puts it up for sale on Craigslist and sells it to a man from Vancouver?

Say it ain’t so, right?

The Clackamas County, Ore., Sheriff’s Office says a Gresham man is under investigation for theft by deception, computer crimes, identity theft and criminal simulation. He allegedly created forged sports memorabilia and sold the items on the Internet, police say.

In a news bulletin issued Wednesday, police said the suspect sold two forged baseballs in April, one to a Vancouver man. The baseball came to Vancouver with a forged authentication letter supposedly from James Spence Authentication, known as JSA, the bulletin said.

Police said they’ve confirmed the ball and letter were fraudulent. Baseballs that really were signed by the Sultan of Swat, aka The Babe and The Great Bambino, are offered for sale on sportsmemorabilia.com for $7,238.

The Columbian is not identifying the suspect because he wasn’t arrested.

Detectives are waiting to collect more evidence. A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home Tuesday.

“Investigators recovered evidence that leads them to believe there are more victims of (the suspect’s) fraud scheme,” the bulletin said.

Those who believe they were defrauded are asked to call the sheriff’s confidential tip line at 503-723-4949; or visit Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.