Legal money laundering scheme grows with video games

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I collect retro video games, especially for the original Nintendo and all PlayStation consoles. It’s very cool to go back and play these games the way they are meant to be. Lately, however, a disturbing trend is starting to appear in the world of collectors. People now “invest” in a video game in the hope of receiving a huge return on that investment by artificially raising the price. It’s really bad for the collecting community and seems on the verge of illegality.

Last week a, yes, rare, sealed version of Super Mario Bros., with a WATA score of 9.8 (mostly perfect) sold for $ 2 million. Wow! Here’s the thing, it looks really ugly and seems to really push the boundaries of legality.

How did he arrive at this price was a company called Rally bought this rare sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for $ 140,000. They turned around and had a bunch of people “invest” in the game. Rally turned around and auctioned it off and got that inflated price of $ 2 million and every “investor” got a return huge on his investment, just like the risk you would take on the stock market.

Rally does this for other rare items as well, including sports memorabilia, baseball cards, books, and other rare or collectable items. It might not be illegal, strictly speaking, but it looks like a pyramid scheme or some sort of legal money laundering scheme. It’s not uncommon for people who put the item up for sale to do nothing more than get their friends or cohorts together and bid on the item themselves to artificially drive up the price.

If it can be done, then why wouldn’t I do my sealed copy of Persona 5 on the PlayStation 3 (see below) rated by this WATA company.

Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media

Let’s say he comes back with a 9.0 rating, which is pretty good by WATA standards. Now I am asking ten listeners to donate $ 100 each. Then I take it to an auction site and those ten listeners who put $ 100 start bidding on it and the auction ends with a price of, say, $ 50,000. These ten people will end up with a substantial return. In other words, money laundering.

It’s bad for people in the collecting community like me. Now, anyone who owns a copy of Super Mario Bros., Contra, or Castlevania will think it’s worth a lot of money when they’re actually only worth $ 5, $ 40, and $ 50 respectively. eBay is getting just as bad these days, all because someone thinks they can make money fast. It’s shameful and only hurts people who really collect for fun.

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