The five Ohio men who’ve already pleaded guilty for their role in a massive autograph forgery case used hundreds of fake eBay IDs from 2010 through 2014 according to the Mahoning County, OH assistant prosecutor.
Marty Desmond told Sports Collectors Daily the scheme involved the sale of phony autographs to at least 25,000 victims during that time, mostly for amounts under $100.
Four men from the Youngstown area pleaded guilty in October and a fifth did the same on Tuesday.
Desmond says they were smaller players in the scheme and that he expects additional charges against a local woman and her son sometime in the next 30 days. At that time, more information is expected to be released. Desmond did say two more plea agreements are expected next week.
The FBI and local police became involved in the case a few years ago after receiving tips. Investigators say the scheme netted over $2 million.
The group created phony certificates of authenticity and included them with the fake autographs which generally sold through eBay. Desmond says they would typically use several eBay and Paypal accounts and when those were shut down by eBay over complaints, they would open others or use existing accounts of other members to continue selling.
Most of the items that were fraudulent were baseball-related and Desmond says Major League Baseball has contacted his office about the case.
Desmond says attempts to obtain restitution have been made but it may be difficult to do so because of the overwhelming number of victims and the fact that most of the men arrested spent whatever proceeds they obtained and have little to offer.