82-Year-Old Faces Prison Over Fake Basketball Cards

Denver, Colorado resident Mayo Gilbert McNeil is 82 years old and could face a prison sentence lasting into his 100s if convicted of pulling a sports memorabilia scam that netted him $800,000.

Via Insider, a Dept. of Justice complaint against McNeil outlines an alleged con game involving a fictitious identity and faked NBA pro—Michael Jordan, for example—basketball cards. Police arrested McNeil Wednesday, alleging that for four years between 2015 and 2019, he and a co-conspirator traded online using fake IDs and burner email accounts.

Federal authorities believe McNeil made his fakes convincing by obtaining plastic holders and specialized grading labels from a well-known collectors’ authentication firm. Then he created the fake cards. One example cited in the complaint: a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card with a fake “10 out of 10” grade that he sold for $4,500. McNeil also allegedly faked a pair of prized Tom Brady cards.

In a statement published Wednesday, United States Attorney Breon Peace said that McNeil “orchestrated a years’ long 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.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll added, “Mr. McNeil defrauded sports memorabilia collectors of more than $800,000 by intentionally misrepresenting the authenticity of the trading cards he was peddling when, in fact, they were counterfeit. The FBI remains committed to investigating fraud at all levels and bringing the subjects who engage in it to justice.”

McNeil faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and if convicted could indeed find himself serving the rest of his life in prison.

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