An upstate New York man is accused of defrauding six trading card buyers or sellers in four states out of more than $33,000, prosecutors said.
According to an affidavit filed on Oct. 11 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York and obtained by Sports Collectors Daily, Kyle Bertrand, 34, of Greece, was arrested and charged with wire fraud and mail fraud.
Prosecutors allege that from Oct. 31, 2021, through Feb. 16, 2022, Bertrand made payments — and then revoked them — for cards to sellers and shipped empty boxes to buyers he met online. Bertrand is accused of using several online cash applications to make payments and then revoking the transactions by disputing the charges.
Prosecutors said that Bertrand bilked buyers and sellers from Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania out of $33,360, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. Prosecutors allege that Bertrand used social media forums to get in touch with prospective buyers about sports cards for sale that he either did not possess or intended to deliver, WROC-TV reported.
After being contacted by buyers interested in the cards he advertised, Bertrand allegedly negotiated sales prices for cards “that were collectible in nature and valued highly” among collectors, the criminal complaint stated.
Prosecutors said Bertrand’s advertisements for the sports cards “appeared legitimate,” with appropriate information and images of the cards he was purportedly selling.
However, the buyers claimed that they either received empty boxes or different cards with lesser values than had been advertised, according to the criminal complaint.
As a buyer, prosecutors alleged that Bertrand would contact card sellers online and negotiate a price and buy them through a credit card processing service. Once receiving the cards, Bertrand would dispute his payment through his credit card company, revoking the charges.
“In these cases, the sellers were deprived of their property without payment from Bertrand,” the criminal complaint stated.
Bertrand had already been on supervised release after he was convicted of federal credit fraud and identity theft in 2017, according to the criminal complaint and a news release. In that case, Bertrand and Paul Kozlyuk, 32, of Brockport, New York, pleaded guilty to “aiding and abetting” the unlawful transfer, possession and use of identification documents.
Prosecutors alleged that on Oct. 31, 2021, Bertrand contacted a seller in Florida through TikTok. According to the criminal complaint, Bertrand negotiated a deal and paid approximately $6,010 through the Square payment app. The seller sent the cards via FedEx the next day to Bertrand at an address in Rochester, New York.
According to the complaint, on Nov. 9, 2021, Bertrand disputed the credit card payment. However, after the seller made contact through social media, Bertrand claimed, “to have no knowledge of the disputes” and refused to return the cards.
The affidavit states that Bertrand contacted a second seller in Ohio on Nov. 3, 2021. He negotiated a price and paid $4,200 via Square. Again, Bertrand disputed the payment and refused to return the cards.
Bradford Price, a special agent for the FBI who is based in Rochester, wrote in the complaint that he viewed Bertrand’s Instagram account and saw a post on Nov. 5, 2021, where he was selling the cards he purchased from the seller in Ohio.
The largest instance of alleged fraud occurred in Florida on Nov. 19, 2021, when Bertrand contacted a seller via Instagram and negotiated a deal for sports cards that totaled more than $20,000, according to the criminal complaint. Bertrand paid again through Square but then disputed the transaction with his credit card service.
The victim contacted Bertrand via Instagram and later through a recorded telephone call. After initially denying the disputes, Bertrand allegedly told the victim that he had returned several of the cards and offered to contact Square to resolve the dispute. According to the complaint, Bertrand never returned the cards or the payment.
Bertrand’s next alleged victim was a buyer in California who made contact through Facebook on Dec. 14, 2021. The buyer agreed to a deal and sent $2,100 to Bertrand through PayPal the next day. According to the criminal complaint, Bertrand immediately transferred the money to his Visa credit card “in a likely attempt to prevent” the victim from disputing the transaction and getting his money back.
The victim received a package on Dec. 20, 2021, that contained cards “of negligible value” instead of the cards he believed to have bought. When the victim contacted the seller, Bertrand refused to send the cards or refund the money.
On Jan. 11, 2022, a buyer from Missouri responded to an advertisement Bertrand had posted on Facebook and agreed to pay $600 for certain cards. The victim sent the money through CashApp. Two days later, the victim received an empty box delivered by a UPS truck, with Bertrand’s return address stating he was in Davenport, a city just west of Walt Disney World in Central Florida.
The victim attempted to get a refund through CashApp but was unsuccessful, according to the criminal complaint. That person never received the money or any cards.
The final victim, from Pennsylvania, contacted Bertrand on Feb. 15, 2022, through Facebook to buy certain cards that were listed for sale. The two agreed on a price of $450, and the victim sent the money through Venmo, according to the criminal complaint.
The next day, the victim received an empty package sent from the address in Davenport. Attempts to reach Bertrand were unsuccessful.
If convicted of the charges, Bertrand could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, WROC reported. A request for bail by Bertrand was denied on Oct. 19 was denied by U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson, according to an order of detention pending trial. The government was successful in its motion that claimed Bertrand was a flight risk.
According to online court records, Bertrand is expected to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 2.