A co-founder of retro game grading service WATA is now being accused of running a side business on eBay. Further investigations by Proof journalist, Seth Abramson, suggest WATA's Mark Haspel is selling graded games under an alias.
Abramson was recently reviewing some of his previous purchases and found a note from a seller informing him how he could contact Haspel for more games. He's also matched up addresses on parcels linked back to Haspel. At the time of the Proof report, Haspel's account was selling 74 WATA-graded Atari 2600 games valued at around $46,000 USD.
Proof believes Haspel is selling Atari games exclusively on eBay in an attempt to go unnoticed by American journalists who have so far only focused on record-breaking Nintendo game sales. And out of all the Atari games listed, only one of them had a grade lower than 9.0 and no seal rating lower than A+. According to WATA's standards, these qualify as an "investment grade" purchases.
The same source alleges Haspel could be studying the market with the assistance of WATA's 'population' data in an attempt to increase the value of Atari titles. And unlike any other collectibles market, this data is not made public.
"there is a chance that Haspel is selling only Atari games because he knows that this market is waning due to few people sending in these games to be graded...If Haspel is using any such data to determine which games to buy, get graded, and sell, there’s at least the danger that he’s participating in what investigators might consider insider trading."
“In almost every collectibles market in the US, grading companies make population reports public so that no one in the market has special access to corporate data they could use to make investments relating to their own company."
Former WATA board member Jeff Meyer resigned from his position in January last year after being accused of selling a large collection of WATA-graded games in 2019 for large amounts of cash.
WATA also previously denied allegations made by YouTuber and journalist Karl Jobst about supposed "fraud and deception" in the retro video game market:
"Wata Games is the trusted leader in collectible video game grading and we're honored to play a key role in this booming industry that we are incredibly passionate about. We're humbled by the support of our thousands of customers who trust us to provide accurate and transparent grading. The claims in this video are completely baseless and defamatory and it is unfortunate that Mr. Jobst did not contact us to give us the opportunity to correct him."
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