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

  • An 82-year-old man made a fortune selling counterfeit basketball cards of players including Michael Jordan, the Justice Department said.
  • May Gilbert McNeil is accused of putting fake cards inside the plastic boxes of a prominent authenticator.
  • McNeil, who denies doing anything wrong, also used a false identity in the transactions, the feds said.

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

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

McNeil was arrested Wednesday, and the wire fraud charges he faces carry a potential prison time of up to 20 years.

Between April 2015 and July 2019, McNeil conducted online exchanges with the help of an unidentified co-conspirator, sometimes using a fake ID and multiple email accounts to hide his identity, according to the complaint.

To make the fakes convincing, the feds say, McNeil sourced the plastic backings and specialized rating tags used by a leading collector authentication company.

Among the cards he forged was a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card, falsely rated “10 out of 10” for quality, prosecutors said, trading one for $4,500 and other similar cards for two valuable Tom Brady cards.

That Michael Jordan card is described on the PSA website as “the most important modern card of any sport in the entire hobby.”

A mint-condition version recently sold for $130,102, the card-grading company said, adding that it’s “the most counterfeited card in the hobby.”

McNeil was not immediately available for comment from Insider, but he told the Associated Press that he “did nothing wrong” and said he had been released without bail.

McNeil will be prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York, according to the Justice Department.

“Fraud protection extends to all consumers, regardless of which team they support,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a DOJ statement.

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