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 (Toll Free)

Florida dealer pleads guilty to mail fraud charges

By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

A Florida-based dealer pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges in a federal court on Thursday for his role in marketing and selling fraudulent game-used memorabilia.

According to the U.S Department of Justice, Bradley Wells, 31, of St. Petersburg, admitted to obtaining “hundreds of jerseys that were not game-used and then had them altered in order to sell them for a higher price” while working for Authentic Sports Inc. and Historic Auctions LLC, both Florida-based companies, between 2005 and 2009.

He had been indicted on two counts back in October 2011.

According to the plea agreement, Wells and others altered the jerseys by adding marks, patches and other damage to them. The jerseys were then sold to trading card companies, according to the Department of Justice.

The charges carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine with Wells’ sentencing to be determined by a U.S. District Court on Dec. 14.

Messages to the major card companies were not returned at the time of the previous pleas for three other dealers.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

26 Comments

A_P

Throw the book at ‘em!

Posted September 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
David Johnson

Another black eye for all the “game used” memorabilia cards. It definitely makes me wonder how many of the “game used” cards have legitimate pieces of game used materials.

Posted September 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

I always thought that the card companies obtained the jerseys and materials directly themselves, and not through a different agency or dealer. I guess this stuff remains hidden until news like this surfaces. It’s a shame that this happens but what I’m wondering is what does this do to the credibility of card companies. When something is issued by Topps as being authentic ,9 times out of ten I really believe them. How do we believe them now if they don’t even know where there product is coming from? This is not a stab at Topps directly as they certainly have and maintain a lot of respect and trust within the carding community.

Posted September 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
graham

I am not surprised the card companies have not responded.

How many cards are now worthless and no real way to authenticate the ones out there.

Posted September 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

That is where Panini, UD, & Topps got there so-called game-used jerseys….

Jersey/patch cards are already tainted… even the sticker autos… how do you know the player actually signed them, when the blank stickers are sent to the player’s house, signed, then sent back to the card company… anybody could of signed those thousands of stickers..

I know famous movie stars that have ties to Santa Barbara, Ca… that have a relative sign their fan base mail… & pictures… I’ve seen the mother of a very famous movie star sign a poster in front of me when I was 16yrs old. I am 32 now. same thing can happen to all these players..

the fines for those involved in this scandal should be more than $250,000…. they probably made millions selling altered jerseys….

now, how about all those ebay sellers that say they have COA’s for in-person autos.. but when I questioned a few.. they could not tell me what company verified the COA’s.. none of the COA’s had the authenticator’s business name on them… in some cases.. even no name.. just another nameless auto certifying the auto to be real… …

When it comes to autographs.. I think every card company, including those that grade/authentic autos are tainted… there are crooks everywhere… fraud does not discriminate!! It eventually touches every business!!

hope my comment gets posted & not disapproved…. FREE SPEECH!!

Posted September 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
Will

Now someone needs to expose the companies that bought the fake merchandise. And the companies need to make things right – for their customers. GU cards are already taking a nose dive in value due to major over-production just like early 90′s.

I have always wondered how they obtain so many “legit” game used merch. And pop out 1000′s of the same card. Now my worse fears are coming true – It is wal-mart jerseys being thrown into a lot of these cards.

Posted September 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
mike

I think Topps (and UD etc) had better respond to this! I have to think that a lawsuit is likely to result if they don’t either express their confidence that they provide authentic GU materials – OR acknowlege a series of cards that were counterfit and that they plan on replacing somehow.

They owe us some kind of response!!!

Posted September 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

not much can be done know you have cards that are fake and real, if they sue they will just file brankrupt card companys will get some money, collectors would not see a dime, collecting is being turned into a big scam, we have to wait on redemption, know as of the last few years we are not even sure if the mem cards are real, whats next, who do you belive, they say they are very careful, and they do there best to make sure they have it right, is this right 4 plus years of fake stuff, and its not like they didn’t know this could happen, just look back to the 90′s all the fake autos, scoreboard, does this ring a bell, they kill a big part of collecting, and theres no looking back

Posted September 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
joe

Chris, we got into a little discusion regarding gameused memorabillia cards and the vagueness of the COA’s (which is found on the back of the card) a few months ago. This is why I questioned that vagueness. The card companies will never issue a statement because they don’t have too. The COA does not Guarantee the collector that the piece of memorabillia was actually used by or worn by that player. Remember what I said. The COA on the back of TODAY’S game used card reads, “You have received a jersey card OF said player”. The key word is “OF” The card companies no onger put “used by” said player. Well now we know why. The card companies themselves questioned the source of the memorabillia. Instead of the card companies taking a stand against this fraud, they continued to milk the collectors. The card companies are covered from any law suites because of that word “OF’ on the COA. They knew what they were doing. Now, there are thousands of collectors out there with cards that are worthless. Good thing I sold all my game used stuff a few years back.

Posted September 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink
chrisolds

Joe: My questions were fielded but they declined to comment — for a few reasons.

Posted September 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
RJ

I hate to say it, but maybe that is why the newer mem cards (especially from Topps) are saying the GU piece “is not from a specific game, event or season …” because they can’t verify it ever was used in a game or is even authentic?

Technically, and I’m not a lawyer — maybe someone on here who is can confirm or deny — this seems like a pretty clever use of legalese to brace themselves for this kind of development. ???

Posted September 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
Dave Elkjar

So, maybe the photo shoot player worn jerseys might be some of the only ones the players have really worn after all?

Posted September 7, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink
Lawrence Elfstrom

I understood back when these cards were first being made (I think it was Upper Deck who started it with Michael Jordan) what made it so awesome. But today they produce so many “jersey” cards that it is just not cool anymore. They make it even less cool by not mentioning anything about the game the piece of jersey is from on the card. Obviously this is because they don’t even know if it was used in a game. The truth is, I wish companies would stop making these cards anyways. They aren’t even cool. I don’t care if I have a 3cmx3cm patch of Pujols’ jersey unless I know what game it is from, and preferably that he did something cool in said game. Honestly, these companies should NEVER have purchased these jerseys from any source outside of MLB or the players themselves. But I truly wouldn’t care either way. If you can’t give me a history behind the patch, its just a piece of fabric to me.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

what a gutless punk! so stupidly greedy! i hope you enjoy 20 years in prison and make lots of friends. hugs and kisses!

Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink
Jim Jordan

Maybe I’m being silly here, but I think people are over-reacting to the card companies. I think the law is going after who is really to blame. Also, i think it is unfair to assume that every single (or even majority) of the game used jerseys are now fakes. I am glad this has happened, because from here on out, companies will be much more cautious to cover their butts. View it as a good thing. Heck, there are some people out there that know how to cherry pick card boxes to get these game used jerseys. That’s kind of unfair and bordering on illegal too, depending on who is doing it and where. Maybe a few people (not the majority, I know) got what was coming to them.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink
chrisolds

Jim: Sounds quite logical to me.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink
Jim Jordan

Chris, thanks. It’s nice to have my comments acknowledged. BTW-I STILL want your job, looks so fun sitting and opening cards and commenting on the hobby. (Yes, I know you do LOTS more than that). That’s coming from a teacher who “sits around all summer doing nothing and is overpaid”. LOL. Keep ripping and keeping us informed on things like this. It is appreciated.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink
joe

Jim-I don’t think a majority of the memorabillia cards are fake. I just wish the card companies would stand up and say something. Speaking of cherry picking boxes, Chris when you guys do your box buster you should mix the packs up. Most of the autos or mem cards are in the exact same spot across the board.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
Mark

This is crazy!!!

The card companies don’t seem to care about their customers. Now evertime I see a jersey card I will think to myself is this real? The government should now go after the card companies and confiscate any remaining jersey material they have left and get this off the market. I have already talked to a lot of my friends about this and they are disgusted by this and it will only be a matter of time when we all take action with the card companies for selling these fake jersey cards to us. Inserts now seem to be the safest bet in the hobby.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
Marc W.

Jim-Are you insane?! Have you read the Daily News article? Bradley Wells acknowledged in a plea agreement with the U.S. Freakin’ Attorney that he purchased replica jerseys, altered them, and then sold them to “trading card companies that create premium collectibles by cutting up the garments and inserting swatches of the material into cards.” “Cutting up the garments and inserting swatches of the material into cards” – who does that besides Topps, UD, Panini, etc.? It is now a fact that anyone with a substantial collection of game used memorabilia cards from the last 5 or so years, like myself, has at least some altered replica jersey cards and since I have no way of finding out which ones are fake and which ones are real I have to assume they are all fake. That is unless, as some others have commented, Topps (for example) gets out in front of this thing and explains why their memorabilia cards are authentic or that they didn’t buy from these guys. If there is no word from any of the “major trading card” companies on this matter than it is a stone cold lock that they did buy from him. Their reputation’s are at stake. If they hadn’t, why wouldn’t they be screaming it from the mountain tops? And yes, you are being very silly and or very naive thinking the card companies aren’t to blame. If the best quality control they can muster up is taking Bradley Wells’ word for it to assure their product is legit then it is a very poorly run company or one that is blinded by greed.

I truly wish this thing would’ve gone to trial. If it had, then who Wells sold the replica jerseys to would have most likely come out in the trial and therefore been public record.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
Jim Jordan

Joe-

I agree that most are not fake, but some people are making it sound like their entire card collection is in ruins. Let’s hope all mem. cards AND autographs are for sure authentic from this day forward, but it’s really tough to be 100% sure unless you are their watching “the process” happen.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
Roy in Texas

The biggest issue I have with the card companies are the amount of auto’s that they have to know are not signed by the athlete. The biggest one I can think of is Dez Bryant. Look at his first auto’s from his rookie year and the ones obtained in person compared to the ones we have seen in the last year. His real auto looks like a cross between hieroglyphs and chicken scratch. The ones made within in the last year are completely legible. There is no way he suddenly learned how to spell after signing his name the same way for 15 years and the card companies don’t care (which I believe is true) or they have idiots that certify the auto’s.

Posted September 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
Mike Corno

Hi Chris. Which of the card companies bought jerseys from Wells? Is it assumed to be all of them? And were the jerseys from all sports or was the fraud confined to certain sports? Thanks for your time.

Posted September 8, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

I don’t care. I’m glad they got the scumbag and are prosecuting him but it doesn’t affect the way I collect. Alright, maybe I’ve got a swatch of a tee-shirt on my card instead of a jersey, or a piece of a piano bench instead of a bat. It still pictures the player I collect. I never collected for the profit or the value that my collection might be worth. I collect because I love baseball and I like the design of the cards. I’ve never spent huge sums on the cards in my collection. Don’t have the means to. I’ll cherish what I’ve got same as I always have.

Posted September 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
joe

So collectors, do you think that the on card autos are signed in person at the card companies. WRONG. For the most part the cards, just like the stickers, are mailed to the player, signed and mailed back to the card company. If the card companies had each player come in and sign for each product can you imagine how much the boxes would be. Even if a rep from the card companies sent someone to games that would still raise the price of the boxes. Collectors we brought this on our self. When memorabillia and auto cards first came out they were cool. A check list of only 5-10 players and no multiple parallels of the same damn autograph. Bringing in 5-10 players or going to a game to get their auto was something that could be done. Than we demanded more and the card companies had to come up with a way to give us what we wanted and keep the cost down. Hence forth the sticker autograph. Sticker autographs are just as authentic as an on card autograph (besides the player touches the sticker just like he would touch the card). At least they moved away from the ugly silver sticker that took away from the picture on the card. Let’s just hope that nothing comes up with the autrhenticity of autograph cards

Posted September 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

Zeprock

Damn—-you just hit it on the head for me. I’m Bummed on this story, but I agree with you 100%. You’re a genesis. Thanks for your comment!
Uplifting,
C. Thomas Howell

P.S. I was just hired today by TVG. God bless America! I’m so happy Beckett community! God Bless the USA!

Posted September 9, 2012 at 1:18 am | Permalink

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