A raid in a warehouse in the Tusculum area of South Nashville has resulted in one of the largest seizures of fake certificates of authenticity in the city’s history.
“These certificates of authenticity were totally inauthentic,” says Metro False Documents Squad Detective Hosea Sink.
The documents in question were accompanied by several crates of autographed baseballs, and attested that the signature on the baseballs was that of Hall of Famer and home run king Hank Aaron. The signature is alleged to be that of Buster “Big Rig” Campbell, a convicted forger and former Metro Councilman, who was arrested in the raid. Campbell was apparently attempting to sell the baseballs, complete with inauthentic authentication, via classifieds in the back of sports publications.
Officers realized the certificates were fake when they noticed that Campbell, in an apparent moment of inattention, had accidently signed several of the baseballs with a combination of Aaron’s name and his own: “Hank ‘Big Rig’ Aaron.”
“To my knowledge, Hank Aaron didn’t have the nickname ‘Big Rig,’ ” says Sink. “I always heard him called ‘The Hammer’—so we were suspicious of the documentation accompanying the baseballs, and, sure enough, it looked fishy, too.”
The cheaply done fake documents aspired to create an air of credibility and trust by featuring a woodcut along the upper border featuring the caption, “George Washington, Father of Our Country.”
“Unfortunately, the portrait of Washington more closely resembled noted character actor M. Emmet Walsh, especially if you sort of squinted,” says Sink. “The truth is, Big Rig Campbell isn’t worth much as a forger anymore. This is not his best work. It’s kind of sad.”
“This is big,” says police spokesman Don Aaron (no relation to Hank) of the arrest and seizure. “These certificates had a street value of upwards of half a million dollars, assuming you were on the right street.”
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