Feds charge man, 82, with selling bogus Michael Jordan trading cards
An octogenarian fraudster sold fake sports trading cards of basketball superstar Michael Jordan to collectors for thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn alleged Wednesday.
Mayo Gilbert McNeil, 82, and his still-uncharged cohorts got their hands on authentic cases, labels and logos from a company that grades trading cards to trick collectors into buying counterfeits, prosecutors said.
His victims, including collectors from Manhasset, L.I., and Michigan, shelled out a total of more than $800,000 for what turned out to be fakes, prosecutors said.
McNeil, of Denver, started scheming to sell fakes since at least 2015, laying out his plans in emails with a co-conspirator, according to a criminal complaint.
“How’s that new holder project going, anyway?” McNeil asked in an August 2015 email, and his co-conspirator responded, “You and Jr. [i]n January are gonna travel cross country in USA with cards in the new cases. You be making 5k every deal,” the feds allege.
He also started looking for fake IDs after employees at a Las Vegas sports card store realized he sold them two bogus baseball cards, the complaint claims. The store kept a copy of his driver’s license after the sale.
He met the Manhasset victim through an online auction site in the summer of 2019, and tricked him into buying a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan card, rated a perfect 10 out of 10, for $4,500, prosecutors allege.
McNeil went by his middle name, “Gilbert,” when he sold the Michigan victim several Michael Jordan cards and one card of retired Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2017, the feds said.
The same company that made the tamper-resistant cases and labels McNeil used later appraised the Michael Jordan cards and determined they were fakes, authorities said.
McNeil had several other victims, according to the complaint.
That led to an investigation by the FBI and the NYPD, and McNeil’s arrest Wednesday morning in Denver. He was arraigned in federal court in Colorado, and will appear in Brooklyn at a later date.
“Protection from fraud extends to all consumers, regardless of what team they root for,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Wednesday. “As alleged, the defendant orchestrated a yearslong and far-reaching scheme to defraud sports trading cards enthusiasts and the sports memorabilia industry. Our office is committed to addressing counterfeiting at all levels of the market.”