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Two Arrested for Selling Fraudulently Graded Collectible Cards in Multi-Million Dollar Scheme

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Federal authorities have apprehended two men from Washington state, Anthony Curcio, 43, and Iosif Bondarchuk, 37, for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme selling sports and Pokémon cards. The duo is accused of doctoring lower-grade trading cards to appear as high-grade items and selling them for over $2 million to collectors.

According to the Southern District of New York's U.S. Attorney’s Office, the scheme operated from 2022 to 2024, where Curcio and Bondarchuk allegedly replaced original cards in grading cases with lesser-valued ones, falsely inflating their grades and values. Among the falsely graded cards was a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card purported to be in 'gem mint' condition, sold for $171,000. The card, however, was identified as fraudulent by MySlabs, an online marketplace, which canceled the sale and alerted authorities.

This case highlights a series of fraudulent activities including other high-profile cards like a Stephen Curry rookie card and a triple player card featuring Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Julius Erving. The accused also ventured into Pokémon card fraud, selling a first-edition Venusaur card under the guise of a perfect grade, which was sold to an undercover officer.

The fraudulent operation extended beyond sales to deceptive customer service practices. When buyers raised concerns about the authenticity of their purchases, Bondarchuk allegedly misled them by giving out contact information falsely attributed to unrelated third parties.

Both men face severe legal consequences, with potential sentences of up to 20 years in prison if convicted. This incident underscores the vulnerabilities within the collectibles market and the importance of vigilance among buyers. It also highlights the ongoing efforts by authorities and certification companies like PSA to maintain trust and integrity in the trading card and collectibles industry.

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