An octogenarian con man sold fake sports cards of basketball superstar Michael Jordan to collectors for thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn alleged Wednesday.
May Gilbert McNeil, 82, and his henchmen still without charges obtained authentic cases, labels and logos from a company that grades trading cards to trick collectors into buying fakes, prosecutors said.
His victims, including collectors from Manhasset, LI and Michigan, paid a total of more than $800,000 for what turned out to be forgeries, prosecutors said.
McNeil, of Denver, began conspiring to sell counterfeits as early as at least 2015, laying out his plans in emails with a co-conspirator, according to a criminal complaint.
“How’s that new headline project coming along, anyway?” McNeil asked in an August 2015 email, and his co-conspirator replied: “You and Jr. (i) in January will be traveling across the country in the US with cards in the new cases. You will make 5k on each deal,” the feds allege.
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He also began looking for fake IDs after employees at a Las Vegas sports card store realized he had sold them two fake baseball cards, the complaint states. 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 Michael Jordan Fleer cardit rated it a perfect 10 out of 10, for $4,500, prosecutors allege.
McNeil used his middle name, “Gilbert,” when he sold the Michigan victim several Michael Jordan cards and a 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 evaluated Michael Jordan’s cards and determined they were fake, authorities said.
McNeil had several other victims, according to the complaint.
That led to an investigation by the FBI and 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.
“Fraud protection extends to all consumers, regardless of which team they support,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Wednesday. “As alleged, the defendant orchestrated a far-reaching, year-long scheme to defraud sports trading card enthusiasts and the sports memorabilia industry. Our office is committed to addressing counterfeiting at all levels of the marketplace.”