If you've bought a signed book on eBay from "bev103162smith," be warned: it's probably fake. A federal grand jury has indicted Forrest R. Smith III, 47, of Reading, PA on charges that he forged authors' signatures in books and sold them on eBay, making more than $300,000 in the process. More than 400 buyers are believed to have been affected.
Among the signatures Smith is believed to have forged are those of Truman Capote, Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, John Irving, Norman Mailer, James Michener, Annie Proulx, Anne Rice, Philip Roth, Leon Uris, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Wolfe. Prosecutors believe Smith had rubber stamps made of authentic signatures and used the stamps to enhance the books with signatures. He's believed to have purchased books using the eBay name "bigdaddy_books" as well, some of which he later resold as signed.
Smith's scheme is believed to have begun in 2002 and lasted until December 2008, when investigators closed in. Prosecutors have not yet revealed how Smith's forgeries came to light; a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office said more information would be revealed at trial.
More as it comes.