HOLD THE PRESSES: Six Charged with Fraud Over Fake Game-Used Sports Memorabilia

Rockford, Ill, October 25, 2011—Six men have been charged in similar but separate fraud schemes involving the sports memorabilia business and the purchase and sale of equipment and uniforms used by professional and collegiate athletes. Today, in U.S. District Court, four defendants were charged in criminal informations and two defendants were charged in indictments.

According to court documents, each case involved the sale, consignment, or auction of jerseys, in which each defendant falsely and fraudulently represented to buyers that the jerseys were “game used,” when they were not. Jerseys worn by professional and collegiate athletes during a game are usually known as “game used” or “game worn,” and are commonly bought and sold by collectors and others. The value of game used jerseys varies based on the popularity of the player that used the jersey and how long it had been since the player had actively played the sport. The value of a jersey was greater if it was game used.

The fraud charges also involved the use of game used jerseys by sports trading card companies. As stated in the charges, to increase the value and price of packages of sports trading cards, manufacturers frequently purchase game used jerseys, cut the jerseys into small pieces, and insert the pieces into card packages. When game used jerseys were purchased for this purpose, the manufacturers often required that the seller provide a “certificate of authenticity” that the jerseys were authentic game used jerseys. 

As charged, the defendants obtained hundreds of jerseys from a variety of sources, including retail sellers, then frequently changed the jerseys’ appearance by roughening, scuffing, washing, or dirtying the jerseys so that they appeared to have actual “wear and tear.” The same jerseys were then re-sold, consigned, and auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars to sports trading card companies and other buyers as game used jerseys. As part of the scheme the defendants provided the buyers with fraudulent certificates of authenticity. Each defendant was allegedly involved in a business engaged in the purchase and sale of sports memorabilia, and the schemes are alleged to have taken place in Rockford and several other states.

Two men are charged by indictment with mail fraud:

ERIC INSELBERG, a resident of New Jersey, involved in the business operations of Taylor Huff, Inc. and Pasadena Trading Corp, from late 2001 through late 2009, in two counts of mail fraud.

BRADLEY WELLS, a resident of Florida, involved in the business of Authentic Sports, Inc., and Historic Auctions, LLC, both Florida businesses, from late 2005 through the middle of 2009, in two counts of mail fraud.

Four men are charged by information with mail fraud:

BERNARD GERNAY, a resident of New Jersey, involved in the business operations of Pro Sports Investments, Inc., a New Jersey business;

BRADLEY HORNE, a South Carolina resident, involved in the business operations of Authentic Sports Memorabilia, Inc., a South Carolina business; JARROD OLDRIDGE, a resident of Nevada, involved in business operations of JO Sports, Inc., a Nevada business; and,

MITCHELL SCHUMACHER, a resident of Wisconsin, using the trade name MS Sports.

Each mail fraud charge in these cases carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 maximum fine, or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The indictments and informations were announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert Grant, Special Agent-In-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Love.

The public is reminded that indictments and informations contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Tags: BERNARD, BRADLEY, ERIC, FBI, GERNAY, HORNE, INSELBERG, JARROD, MITCHELL, OLDRIDGE, More…SCHUMACHER, WELLS, charges, fraud, indictments, jerseys, mail, news

Comment by scott on October 25, 2011 at 3:16pm

If they are guilty, I hope that they are made an example of for the rest of the autograph fraud industry. 

Comment by Brandon Mysinger on October 26, 2011 at 3:02am
I have. Hundreds of NFL autographed jersey cards. I have noticed the trend of stating "game used" is slowing and is slowly being replaced by "event worn". Events like rookie day, signing day, etc.
Comment by Brick Hunter on October 26, 2011 at 4:00am

I'm always wary of this game worn stuff. The only time I believe is like an instance with SCP Auctions auctioning off Julius Erving's memorabilia and game worn jerseys this month. Very well publicized and with signed COA's from Dr. J himself.

Comment by Steve Zarelli on October 26, 2011 at 5:09am

The same jerseys were then re-sold, consigned, and auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars to sports trading card companies and other buyers as game used jerseys.

Great news. But the big question is if any of the fake game used items made it into trading cards. Not good news for chase card collectors.

Comment by DB on October 26, 2011 at 8:54pm

The men duped collectors by purchasing jerseys from retail outlets and manipulating the materials so that they appeared "game-used." Each item was also accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity (COA), the fail-safe that is supposed to protect collectors against bogus items.

A four-year investigation by the FBI in Chicago and others helped unravel the deception that netted the sellers large sums of money.

One particular item that was included in the forgeries was a purported Michael Jordan warm-up jersey that was sold by Inselberg in 2007. The jersey had belonged to another University of North Carolina player around the same time as Jordan and the Hall of Famer's name was added to the warm-up. The item was exposed as fraudulent after an evaluation by Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services (MEARS). Later, UNC confirmed that they still had the Jordan warm-up.

The men face fines of up to $250,000 and 20 years in prison for each mail fraud charge.

 

Hopefully, they get the max.  Now we need to post the links to these sites as identified so we can evaluate what else!

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on November 11, 2011 at 11:01am

Testing...just ignore.

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on December 5, 2011 at 11:41am

Great new PSA/DNA video on authenticating Mantle, DiMaggio and Williams:

http://live.autographmagazine.com/video/psadna-steve-grad-on-mantle...

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on December 5, 2011 at 12:10pm

I posted the link to that video in the wrong spot--meant to put in Mantle/Williams/DiMaggio...sorry.

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