Air ball: 82-year-old sports card dealer charged in elaborate counterfeit scam


Federal prosecutors delivered a legal slam dunk against an 82-year-old sports memorabilia dealer, accusing him of running an elaborate counterfeit scam in which he raked in over $800,000 by selling fake items, including multiple Michael Jordan rookie cards.

Mayo Gilbert McNeil, of Denver, Colorado, was charged with running the scam for years, selling fake cards that had been furnished with doctored authentication documents, to unsuspecting buyers online.

“The defendant orchestrated a years’ long and far-reaching scheme to defraud sports trading cards enthusiasts and the sports memorabilia industry,” said Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York. “Protection from fraud extends to all consumers, regardless of what team they root for.”

McNeil, who had been the subject of complaints on sports memorabilia chat boards for years, was arrested Wednesday in Denver and couldn’t be reached for comment. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had retained a lawyer.

According to the criminal complaint, McNeil ran his alleged scam from 2015 through 2019 after procuring numerous empty hard-plastic cases produced by a well-known memorabilia authentication company that are often used to protect high-value trading cards.

The cases typically come with a grading label containing a special code that indicates to buyers that the cards had been authenticated as real. But prosecutors say McNeil would place forgeries inside instead.

In several cases, McNeil sold phony 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie cards for around $5,000 each. In some instances, he traded the bogus cards for genuine items like Tom Brady rookie cards, prosecutors said. 

McNeil eventually became the subject of numerous complaints on sports memorabilia trading message boards, so he took to selling items using fake identities and burner accounts on sites like eBay and other trading platforms, prosecutors said.




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