The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania says a former owner of a group of internet sports memorabilia businesses pleaded guilty Monday before United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, in Harrisburg, PA to a $2.5 million dollar fraud scheme.
The Criminal Information was filed in January pursuant to a plea agreement entered into between the United States Joshua Shores. The agreement, which is subject to the approval by the court, includes joint recommendations relating to loss amounts, forfeiture allegations, and an agreement to pay restitution as determined by the court. Judge Jones ordered a presentence investigation to be completed, and no sentencing date has been scheduled.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Shores, age 41, of Bel Air, Maryland and also of Ocean City, Maryland, pleaded guilty to Wire Fraud based upon Shores’ five-year scheme, between 2008 and 2013, to obtain money and property by dealing in counterfeit and fraudulent sports memorabilia. Shores, who also operated a restaurant, created, owned, and operated internet businesses and sold goods on Amazon.com. He used the names of Dealakhan, LLC, Stadium Authentics, Autograph Showcase, Sunset Beach, End Game Sports, Authenticgraph, and others with facilities in York County, Pennsylvania and in Maryland, and used the businesses to traffic in counterfeit and fraudulent sports memorabilia.
Shores represented addresses of mailbox receiving services to customers as his business address, created and registered PayPal and Amazon.com accounts in his name and in the names of others to receive payments from customers, purchased counterfeit sports jerseys in bulk from China and affixed fraudulent autographs to them representing them to be authentic autographs of well-known athletes and sports figures, and also using fake certificates of authenticity. According to the Criminal Information, Shores unlawfully obtained approximately $2.5 million dollars from buyers of the fraudulent items.
The Criminal Information also seeks forfeiture of real property located in Ocean City, Maryland, U.S. currency in the approximate amount of $140,000, and an additional amount of $26,000 in proceeds related to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a sports utility vehicle. The government will also seek restitution for victims of the fraud scheme and representatives for Amazon.com have been contacting potential victims by email on behalf of the government’s attorneys.