WARNING! Don’t Get Scammed by Alex Forbes


Alex Forbes Selling FakesCountless times I have talked about M.U.S.C.L.E. being a tiny hobby. For better or worse, you cross paths with the other fish swimming in this tiny, polluted pond.

Sadly, M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors have learned that the pond might be even more polluted than ever considered. One collector, Alex Forbes (also known by his former LRG screen-name – arforbes), has added more pollution to the M.U.S.C.L.E. waters than anyone else.

To fully understand the recent problems, it is important to start with and understand his M.U.S.C.L.E. history.

Alex’s past actions got him banned from littlerubberguys.com. His first proven and documented odd behavior began in 2005. He repeatedly lied to everyone on the LRG board about having two eBay accounts. For example, in January 2005 he’s playing dumb about the mysterious buyer named “yapiel.” In October of the same year he’s still playing the same game. But then he’s caught in his lie.

With 20/20 hindsight, he probably should have been banned from the website. Instead, his apology (and Jon’s kindness) bought him some more time:

Part of Alex’s LRG Apology :

I did certainly screw up and learned a lesson. I just hope that I still have friends here. It was eating me up that I betrayed you guys, especially my long time friends, the administrators here like Johnny, Doc, Marty, Beligerant1, Ridureyu, Veers, Rokk, to name only a few. I am truly sorry guys…and to everyone else.

He didn’t learn a lesson. In June of 2008 it is discovered that Alex has an account pretending to be from Canada. He’s lying again. Using his “arforbes” account to publicize sales from “balucard” on eBay – which is himself. He’s caught lying again to his supposed friends. This finally gets him banned from LRG.

He keeps acting strangely after being banned. If you want to know more, then you can go down the rabbit-hole. The rest of us will fast-forward to May of 2011, which is the first time Alex Forbes tries to sell a dyed M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.

From Alex’s Auction Description :

You are bidding on an Oddball COPPER/BRONZE Meat #189 M.U.S.C.L.E. Men Figure!!! The figure is in perfect condition, but is a color I have never seen before in a Muscle figure! I received the figure in a lot of Muscle figures, and was puzzled by its strange and unique color. Unsure if it is a unique FACTORY ERROR or stained figure, but it looks and feels exactly like Muscle plastic and appears to be the former, an actual muscle plastic factory error giving it a very unusual dark brown/copper/bronze color!!!

You can call Alex Forbes a lot of things. One thing you can’t call him is an uninformed M.U.S.C.L.E. collector. Even in 2011 a seasoned M.U.S.C.L.E. collector is not going to suspect that figure of being an error. The figure has clearly been dyed.

“Has he really done anything so bad?!?!”

No. Up until mid-2011 Alex Forbes is just an odd weaselly-guy to M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. And just behaves oddly. Most collector circles have plenty of these types.

Alex Forbes Stolen Figure

Red #68 from $7600 Lot

In February of 2014 we witness Alex’s strangest M.U.S.C.L.E. behavior to date. He was the winner of the $7600 lot (Can you believe I even mentioned dyed figures?). Then, based on the feedback, it appeared that he actually stole the Red #68. According to LRG, everything turned out ok for the seller. She got to keep the $7600.

March of 2017 M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors learned of more shenanigans from Alex Forbes. Just read the post. It’s too exhausting to repeat. Frankly, all of it is exhausting.

But M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors deserve to be aware. Lucas Rage, the moderator fuzzbuster on LRG, referred to hardcore M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors as zealots. It’s a great term. The M.U.S.C.L.E. zealots know Alex’s behavior all too well, but you shouldn’t have to be a zealot to be safe.

And sadly, it has become about keeping M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors safe.

In February another one of Alex’s eBay names was discovered. This time the name was metal-storm. Not exactly earth-shattering news. However, Bones (Nick) said:

Bones :

So I’ll throw some fuel on the fire.
I along with at least 2 other have fake dyed figures sold to us by Forbes…and I know there are others

Dyed MUSCLE Figures Arforbes

Nick’s Dark Blue, Dyed ‘Purple’, and Purple #107 Figures

Even after watching Alex lie for over 15 years (maybe more) I couldn’t believe that was true. It was true.

Nick’s pictures are shocking.

A M.U.S.C.L.E. collector might think, “Hey, maybe the figure is just faded? We’ve seen discoloration before!”

True. But we’ve never seen a Dark Blue fade to Purple – nor can it.

Sadly, Nick wasn’t only scammed when it came to the #107 figure. He was scammed by a #15 figure from Alex too. This time he wasn’t just looking at the outside of the figure.

Alex Forbes Fake Figures

The Ultimate Proof of Dyeing

This time he wanted to be 100% sure his figure was fake. He chose the “nuclear” option and cut the figure. To his utter dismay, the figure was Dark Blue on the inside.

“Maybe that’s how color figures look on the inside!”

That’s a fair thought. There’s only been one previously documented example of looking at the inside of a figure.

Nick had the same thought. He was suspicious of a third Class A figure he bought from Alex.

This figure wasn’t Dark Blue. It was a ‘Salmon’ #107. Injection molding insures a uniform color. There should never be an error on just the outside of the figure. Nick was hoping he was wrong. At this point, he needed to know the truth – no matter the consequences.

Sadly, the results of cutting the figure revealed his worst fears. He had purchased a third faked Class A figure. The figure was not a Class A Salmon #107 figure. He had purchased an Orange #107 that Alex had dyed Salmon.

M.U.S.C.L.E. Color Figures Inside

Orange #107 Dyed Salmon

M.U.S.C.L.E. Color Figures Inside

Dyed Salmon vs. Authentic Salmon and Orange

“Well, that’s just one person. It doesn’t mean Alex meant to do it.”

That’s a fair, logical objection.

However, it flies in the face of all of the quantifiable and tangible data. Let’s start with the number of victims. It wasn’t just Nick. Unfortunately, at least, two other people unknowingly bought dyed Class A Purple figures from Alex.

The first, Brian (cloning007 on LRG), also bought a supposed Class A Purple #107 figure. Unfortunately, he actually bought a dyed Dark Blue #107.

Alex Forbes Fake Figures

Actual Purple #15 vs. Fake #107

Alex Forbes Fake Figures

Fake #107 Compared to Purple #3 and Purple #15

Brian said:

I wanted to show my picture of my Ultra Rare #107 Blurple Sunshine, also acquired from Forbes. You can compare it to my other sunshine figures but if you look around the head you can def see how its not a real purple. It looks to be a blue 107 that he dyed. You can also see that the fake has a different kind of gloss from the dye.

Alex Forbes Fake Figures

Dyed Blurple “BHS”

Blurple. That would be funny if the situation wasn’t so upsetting.

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” I agree with Ian Flemming.

The third example comes from Chuck (Zero on LRG). He believed he had purchased a Class A Purple #3 figure from Alex. He did not.

He had purchased a dyed Dark Blue #3 figure.

Like Nick, he wanted to be sure. As an homage to BHS he decided to drill out the chest. Sadly, it confirmed his worst fears. The figure was a dyed Dark Blue figure.

“I’m sure it was just a prank. Or maybe Alex didn’t even know they were dyed?”

Again, fair and logical objections.

However, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. For nearly two decades Alex Forbes has lied and deceived M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors at every turn. Selling dyed figures shouldn’t be a surprise; it’s a logical conclusion.

His M.U.S.C.L.E.-related actions have been continually worsening. He’s like the abusive husband that abuses and abuses, avoiding punishment, and ultimately murders his wife. Or the kid that tortures small animals and eventually kills a person. Obviously M.U.S.C.L.E. figures are not anywhere near those two extreme examples, but the behavior pattern is the same.

Alex’s lies call into question everything he has ever touched: the final nine figures; the light purple tree; the countless SC 4-packs he sold; his SC 10-pack; the Dr. Bombay 10-pack; the Color Non-Poster figures; and just all the endless shenanigans. And what is the ripple of his actions?

Fake Purple #107 Figure

Alex’s Auction Picture from AW #202

Chuck selflessly tried to share these purchased figures with others (e.g., like this #107). How many dyed figures have unknowingly trickled into the collecting pond?

And if it was a prank? Where is the announcement? Who is the target? And for what purpose? It is impossible to provide a satisfactory answer to any of those questions.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa – stop the clock. Maybe Alex didn’t even know they were dyed.”

Relax, I was coming back to that.

M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors know the power of lighting when photographing M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. We also know the influence figure positioning can have on an eBay listing. Alex has perfectly photographed his lot of figures to the right.

The Purples are separated; making a solid comparison almost impossible. When Purple figures are close to each other, it becomes too easy to see differences (e.g., example #1 and example #2).

Alex Forbes Grand Larceny

Alex’s Auction Picture from AW #240

He used the same technique in a lot from Auction Watch #240 (again, with dyed figures).

“Wait. You were fooled too. Couldn’t Alex have been fooled?”

No, absolutely not.

Like him or not, he is documented as a prominent M.U.S.C.L.E. collector for two decades. He knows M.U.S.C.L.E. figures as well, maybe even better, as any collector. There is no reason to believe Alex was unintentional about his figure placement. Having a dyed figure next to an authentic figure would have raised red flags for his listings – which he listed under, yet another, alias: aligigli0.

Seeing these dyed M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, in-person, next to authentic M.U.S.C.L.E. figures is painfully obvious to any M.U.S.C.L.E. collector.

Why was I fooled when I held it in my hand? Because Chuck’s kindness superseded my cynicism. Plus, he looked pretty Purple by himself.

Chuck and the Purple #107 have two more interesting tie-ins with Alex. First, Alex pretended to be Chuck. That’s pretty fucked up.

Second, I contacted Alex Forbes about the Purple #107 situation. I knew I was going to do a write-up for this website (previously mentioned, seen here). I thought it might be interesting to hear from the seller (Alex) too. The response is much more interesting about three years later. Here is the complete interaction:

Hi Alex,

I was curious if you wanted to make any comment about your recent Purple #107 auction?

I’m putting together a post and would love to share your side of the story. I understand it’s a longshot, but I wanted to try.

And since I’m reaching out I’ll take an even longer shot. Would you ever consider talking with me for a seller write-up on the site? Here are two examples: http://blog.uofmuscle.com/tag/ebay-entrepreneur-exchange/

No worries either way. I would expect a hard, “no.” But life is full of surprises.

Take care,
Chad

Here was his initial response:

Hey Chad,

I am uncertain what you mean exactly by my side of the story? Is there a story to this auction that I am unaware of? I have not visited your site in quite some time as I am very busy with work and raising a family. I’ll take a look at your site when I have a chance in the next few days or so.

Alex

At the time, I assumed his family statement was true. Why would someone lie about that? Given a tip, it sure seems like he lied. (Update: The picture has been removed or made private on Instagram. The tip was Alex’s wife’s Instagram. They are currently expecting their first child in 2020. Thanks for reading Alex!)

Anyways, he responded again:

Chad,

Sorry for the delay in writing back, but I just recently got the chance to look into what you emailed me about a few days ago. It didn’t take long for me to browse your site to find out what you were referring to about this purple 107 auction. I’m not surprised too much about why my auction did not sell for the price it ended at in the first place. I guess buyers don’t really need to wait too long until they are contacted by members of the forums or read something about me from posts on your site after they win an auction of mine.

After looking at your site a bit longer, I found some pretty unbelievable and quite farfetched assumptions and accusations that you and others published in posts and comments to those posts respectively. Astounding that you all still spend that much time following me and theorizing about what you think you know about how I do business. I must ask this in the most respectful manner possible, but don’t people have better things to do? I mean seriously, it’s been nearly a decade since I was banned from the boards and was left content with collecting and selling on my own. I’m not at all interested in what the muscle community thinks of my sales or actions at this point.

About making a comment about the purple 107 auction, I can assure you that there was no shill bidding involved. I have access to the bid history that can prove this but that is neither here nor there, and honestly after reading some of the things that are still being said after all this time, it is pointless for me to argue against nor do I feel the need to. There was no foul play but what the community created, resulting in a sabotaged auction due to after the fact comments published on your site. Your very own “rule of two” was responsible for the price of this auction, but you completely missed that because you were too busy focusing on the fact that it was my auction. You may laugh or huff and puff about that comment but think about it from this perspective; don’t you think that I would have been suspended from ebay by now at least once after all these years and after all these accusations of shady selling and shill bidding and the like if it were true?

Honest truth?…I am just a seller that is trying to sell his items. Buyers are hardly ever dissatisfied with their purchases from me, but sales can be challenging when buyers are consistently turned away by what they are reading. The misconceptions of the muscle community and published blogs and their respective comments on your site have forced me to open new ebay accounts to sell items to avoid the drama you are constantly creating based purely on speculation. It takes one slanderous comment to get the community fired up about me from what I remember and continue to see after just briefly visiting your site. You and the others that continue to look into this sort of thing could definitely make better use of your time.

You should be careful about what you post on your site about things you have little information about. In no way am I trying to come off as rude or disrespectful, just some advice. It reflects poorly on your reputation and credibility as a blog site owner. I assume a lot of people read what you post. Much of what I just recently read is very misleading and could actually result in problems with the community you are trying to inform. There are things on there that I have read that are so extremely untrue that I actually feel sorry for the people that wasted so much time creating the information.

If you need any more information or still want to publish a seller write up for your site, I would not mind helping, but I would ask that your posts be a bit more constructive instead of defamatory.

Admittedly, not super relevant to everything – but certainly an interesting footnote to that specific, dyed #107 figure.

“So, what’s the point of all this?”

Grand Larceny.

$60 for ‘smorange’ #107

We’re not talking about a couple bucks and a few dyed M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. We’re talking about defrauding people thousands of dollars. As I mentioned Saturday, eBay is removing old data faster and faster. It was hard for Nick, Brian, and Chuck to be 100% sure exactly how much money they were defrauded.

Using some of the auctions tracked here, the three were able to help formulate some guesses.

Brian ended up with his ‘Blurple’ through a trade with Chuck. Alex didn’t directly steal from Brian, but is an excellent example of the problem Alex unleashed on the M.U.S.C.L.E. community.

Nick bought an unknown dollar amount of figures from Alex. With eBay purging information so quickly, it was difficult to document everything. However, Nick was able to find a screen capture of the ‘smorange’ #107 figure.

Chuck had the most money stolen.

Chuck purchased the lot from AW #240 and paid $1,026.13. (And remember, Alex pretended to be Chuck in the Comments of AW #241 – claiming he wasn’t the seller.)

Chuck knows the total dollar amount is more than that, but too much information has been removed by eBay.

But does the exact final number matter? Not really. The negative impact on the M.U.S.C.L.E. hobby is incalculable. Chuck bought, at least, seven fake Class A figures from Alex Forbes. Nick and Brian have more. Chuck’s words serve as an excellent end-cap:

And some others showed up on Ebay right after this was discovered and were taken down, so I know other people have been cheated as well. I suspect there are some red dyed figures as well because Nick has a red 68. It’s a mess. The guy is a criminal. I suspect that a lot of other people have been stolen from and do not know it or don’t want to admit it. For me, personally, it has changed the way I look at the hobby and it makes me sick. The saddest part for me is that I bought a lot of those figures and gave them away to fellow collectors to help them get closer to their goals not knowing they were fakes. I feel terrible about that.

But there are bigger things in the world and I am thankful for my family and friends.

Obviously, Chuck is 100% correct. There are bigger things in the world, especially in early 2020. But in the M.U.S.C.L.E. world there may never be a bigger, sadder, more offensive story ever told.

This website was started as a tool to help all M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors be on the same footing. To guarantee each collector could access the same M.U.S.C.L.E. knowledge. Now you know this information.

How you use that information is up to you.

Epilogue:

The Lot with the Copper #189

There were dribs and drabs of of information that couldn’t be 100% backed-up or proven. But the funniest piece of information was that Brian ended up with Alex’s dyed #189 figure. Not knowing the backstory of the figure, he bought the lot on the Facebook page – Mini Figure Militia. He bought the figure from Jason Speth.

Brian said, “When I first saw it I had no doubt in my mind it was dyed somehow, but looking back at it now its kinda strange how it was hiding in the blurry back ground of his picture.”

Copper #189 Today

He said the figure is unquestionably dyed. His guess was that the oils in peoples’ hands messed with the ink over time, which is why he looks so different today.

The Jason Speth/Alex Forbes connection coming up was interesting to me. Alex once offered Jason $400 to buy my Ramenman with Dragon:

I was talking to Alex one night on the phone about a sale question and your sr got brought up. He told me he would like it and would make an offer to u for it. He told me if I could get u to sell it to me for him he would send me the money and 400 dollars to help me out with my situation as a thank u. He told me what he’s willing to pay and as high as he would go. If u want to sell it I want u to get the most for it yet he still gets the fig and me the help from him…he’s bought a few things from me helping me out already but 400 is a blessing that I desperately need. He has offered to pay 2000 for it and I’ll be honest there is a lil wiggle room there too. I just want all of us to come out ahead and be happy….would this be something you would do. I know u don’t care for Alex but money talks….and he has it. Anyways sorry to keep bugging u as I know u are busy but I could really use that extra money myself. He’s been good to me over the years and never ever done me wrong….also….U wouldn’t even have to deal with him….only me. He’d send the money over to me, then me to u unless u don’t mind him paying u. And u ship to me then I will to him again unless u don’t mind shipping to him.

I don’t know about you guys, but when my friends need help – I just help them.

I don’t dangle a stings-attached carrot in front of a “friend” because I’m too chickenshit. But that’s just me.

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  1. #1 by Walker26 on April 6, 2020 - 10:48 am

    What a douche. I wonder what his life would be like if he spent the amount of energy on scamming people into something positive.

  2. #2 by TheOrgg on April 6, 2020 - 12:55 pm

    Alex was always a jerk, even before he was banned from LRG; I remember twice he put up threads of ‘anyone need any of these?’ and when people would chime in, he’d make sure they were in totally separate lots; he did that to me with the only Ultimate Muscle figures I needed, and I know he did that with someone who needed Army Ants or something obscure like that– even had to do multiple auctions with multiple LRGs in them to flesh that one out.

    I wasn’t surprised when it turned out he was scamming, but I never expected something this insidious.

  3. #3 by Scott on April 6, 2020 - 2:05 pm

    Me thinks Alex doth protest too much.

  4. #4 by Krangala on April 6, 2020 - 3:19 pm

    Not even gonna lie, the man really soured me to collecting these toys for a long time. I was never scammed by him, as I maintain a position of constant vigilance.

    But having someone so prolific, and so dedicated to scamming the community they proclaim to be part if really sucks the f***ing fun out of it.

    I admit I’m a fairweather fan, but my love is never diminished, just refocused. But when u scrupulous members if the community seek to defraud said community, it really makes collecting, and trust amongst the honest collectors that much more difficult, but also that much more important.

  5. #5 by Nick on April 6, 2020 - 5:14 pm

    That last comment sounds exactly like the way Forbes used to talk

  6. #6 by Krangala on April 7, 2020 - 2:40 am

    Mine?

    If you are suggesting that I have anything to do with that scammer, please go to the LRG forums and look me up. My feedback is flawless, and I have been a long time respected member of the community since 2002. Furthermore, I live in Ohio. Jon Karis will vouch for me.

  7. #7 by Trashcandream on April 7, 2020 - 8:42 am

    Are you concerned that some of the Class A figures YOU obtained to complete your set are not real?

  8. #8 by Chad Perry on April 7, 2020 - 9:37 am

    Trashcandream :

    Are you concerned that some of the Class A figures YOU obtained to complete your set are not real?

    100%.

    I haven’t, knowingly, bought anything from Alex in years. But the kind gestures, of someone like Chuck, mean I have to inspect the figures.

    That’s hopefully the second part of this story. How can we safely identify counterfeit Class A figures?

  9. #9 by Krangala on April 7, 2020 - 4:40 pm

    I have a tried and true method of avoiding fraudulent Class A figures. I avoid all Class A figures.

  10. #10 by KingJefferson on April 9, 2020 - 12:47 pm

    thanks for the heads up, people like forbes are the reason why i only collect flesh figures, only a few rare figures but i dont have to deal with people like him

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