An 82-year-old duped collectors into spending $800,000 on fake basketball cards of players like Michael Jordan. He faces up to 20 years behind bars.

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  • An 82-year-old made a fortune selling counterfeit basketball cards of players like Michael Jordan, the DOJ said.

  • Mayo Gilbert McNeil is accused of putting fake cards inside a prominent authenticator's plastic cases.

  • McNeil, who denies doing anything wrong, also used a fake identity in the transactions, feds said.

A 82-year-old Colorado man ran an elaborate scheme in counterfeit sports cards, defrauding collectors to the tune of more than $800,000 over several years, according to federal investigators.

Pristine — but fake — Michael Jordan cards were among those that Mayo Gilbert McNeil, of Denver, exchanged for thousands of dollars or valuable real cards, according to the complaint filed Tuesday.

McNeil was arrested on Wednesday, with the wire fraud charges he faces bringing potential prison time of up to 20 years.

Between April 2015 and July 2019, McNeil made trades online with the help of an unnamed co-conspirator, at times using a fake ID and multiple email accounts to obscure his identity, the complaint said.

To make the fakes convincing, feds say, McNeil got hold of the plastic holders and specialist grading labels used by a prominent collectors' authentication company.

Among the cards he faked was a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card, falsely graded "10 out of 10" for quality, prosecutors said — exchanging one for $4,500, and other similar cards for two valuable Tom Brady cards.

That Michael Jordan card is described on PSA's website as "the most important modern card from any sport in the entire hobby."

A mint-condition version recently sold for $130,102, the card grading company said, adding that it is "the most heavily counterfeited card in the hobby."

McNeil was not immediately reachable for comment by Insider, but he told the Associated Press that he "did nothing wrong," and said he had been released without bail.

McNeil is set to be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York, according to the Department of Justice.

"Protection from fraud extends to all consumers, regardless of what team they root for," United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a DOJ statement.

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