Family says NEO auction house is selling fake military medals; auction house insists they are real

Family says Willoughby auction house is selling fake military medals

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Imagine someone selling fake military medals with your loved one’s name on them. It’s certainly painful and shocking, if it’s true.

But, a local auction house overseeing a recent sale insists the medals in question are real, and they are doing nothing wrong.

Our CBS affiliate talked to the frustrated family members in Pittsburgh, who say that they have all of their relatives medals.

The Bird brothers say the Marine medals with their brother’s name on them that were listed for sale can’t be real.

But, as we investigated, we actually discovered it is possible for families to have several real copies of a medal.

“I know that no one in my family would have ever ask for duplicate medals,” one of the Bird brothers said. “There’s no reason. We had all of his medals. There would be no reason for us to do that.”

In an effort to be fair and get both sides of this story, 19 News tracked down the warehouse that the online auction house runs out of.

The owner didn't want to go on camera, but let us in and gave us information.

Lt. Thomas Bird’s medals sold for more than $1,200 at Milestone Auctions, along with tons of other military memorabilia.

The owner here says his reputation depends on selling authentic items. He has an expert look at all the items that come in, and he sends the ones he deems fake back to whoever sent them in.

When Lt. Bird’s medals came in, the expert deemed them authentic.

The auction house still insists they are real, saying the engraving on the back is perfect.

The owner of the auction house says he’s seen many cases where family members don’t know other relatives ordered duplicate medals and later sold them.

The historical society of Mount Lebanon found Lt. Bird’s metals listed weeks ago, and then told the family about it.

“If this is legit and real, we’d love to bring these medals back to Mount Lebanon,” Jim Wojcik, past president of the Historical Society, said.

But, legally at this point, the Bird family or someone else would have to buy them back to get them there.

The auction house says the best way to prevent your family from a situation like this is to have a conversation now about what valuable memorabilia exists, and where you want it to go in the future.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation already, the auction house says they can answer any questions for you.

19 News would also like to know about it. You can email the investigative reporter who did this story at hcatlett@woio.com

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