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Arrest Sparks the Question, How Big Is Trading Card Fraud?

Arrest Sparks the Question, How Big Is Trading Card Fraud?

The Feds accused an 82-year-old Colorado man of defrauding trading-card collectors, including residents of New York and Michigan, over a period of 4 years. They charged him last week with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

“As alleged, the defendant orchestrated a years’ long and far-reaching scheme to defraud sports trading cards enthusiasts and the sports memorabilia industry,” US Attorney Breon Peace said. “Our Office is committed to addressing counterfeiting at all levels of the market.”

Federal prosecutors allege that between April 2015 and July 2019, the defendant conspired with others to sell and trade sports trading cards, including 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie cards, with victims he found over the Internet and through online selling platforms:

“The defendant misrepresented that the sports trading cards he was offering were graded by a professional authentication company, when in reality the trading cards were not authentic. The defendant defrauded his victims of over $800,000 in cash and authentic sports trading cards that were traded for the counterfeits.”

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors allege the defendant and others obtained authentic tamper-resistant cases and other indices of authenticity from an unnamed grading company, including its logos and grading labels, and used those materials to falsely represent that counterfeit sports cards were authentic and graded by the company.

The charging documents alleged that a Las Vegas sports card store bought two baseball cards from the defendant that were later determined by the grading company to be counterfeit. Store employees made a copy of the defendant’s driver’s license, after which he allegedly sought a fake ID from an unnamed co-conspirator.

In 2019, the defendant allegedly requested a Long Island collector to take a transaction off of the online-auction site where two Michael Jordan basketball cards were listed. The unnamed victim allegedly wired $4,500 to the defendant, whose cards were later determined by the grading company to be counterfeit.

The defendant similarly duped a Michigan collector of Tom Brady sports cards in 2017, according to the charging document, which alleges the transactions between the defendant and the two victims were just a “representative set of transactions in fraudulent sports cards engaged in by the defendant and his co-conspirators.”

In an article about the case, AP (via ColoradoSun.com) reported that the defendant said he did nothing wrong in a brief phone call.

Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, the full press release is posted to the DOJ website.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

2 thoughts on “Arrest Sparks the Question, How Big Is Trading Card Fraud?”

  1. There is no such animal as a tamper resistant case. Resistant means just that, its resistant but not tampered resistant. Just ask NGC about it. There are the biggest company dealing with coins. They won’t tell you its tamper proof but it tamper resistant.

  2. Poor grandpa, he probably couldn’t even see to know. At that age their knees give up to and all you can do is shuffle

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