Fake PSA 10 Jordan Rookie Leads to Courtroom Battle
I’m slightly late on this one, but another collector alerted me to this lawsuit regarding a Fake PSA 10 Michael Jordan rookie card.
Donald Spence, who is a heavyweight in collecting circles (just take a look at his PSA registry here) is the plaintiff in the suit.
Back in May 2017, Spence purchased a purported PSA 10 graded Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card from Common Cents Coins in an eBay transaction worth $19,999.99.
The full description from their eBay listing:
This is an listing for the KING OF BASKETBALL ROOKIES, the 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie card #57 graded by PSA Gem mint 10. Winning buyer gets free insured shipping. Please check out my other items on ebay. There are no returns on graded cards unless it is misrepresented in any way.
And here are the images of the Jordan for sale:
The complaint notes that Spence contacted PSA shortly after receiving the card in 2017 to place the Jordan rookie in his registry. At the time, it appeared that someone else had the card in their registry (which was likely the real card with the real cert #).
The card was put in storage for the next three years, until the Summer of 2020 when he decided to sell the Jordan and his PSA 10 Fleer Basketball set.
The Jordan and other cards were sent to Memory Lane auctions, which sent the Jordan rookie in to PSA to have re-slabbed in a new holder. In August of 2020, Jackie Curiel at PSA contacted Memory Lane to tell them that the card was 'fraudulent'.
"Mr. Curiel stated in the letter that PSA examined the Purported Jordan Rookie Card and found that the plastic holder and PSA labeled had been tampered with and the PSA label and card inside were fraudulent"
Quick Note: If you've read any of our Jordan authentication articles (here, here and here), you might be wondering what's wrong with the card in question. It's hard to say, as no high quality images were provided, but it appears to be a very good fake. And I find it hard to believe that an experienced collector like Spence could have been duped so easily. The fake looks that good...coloring somewhat off, but it's a damn good fake.
After Spence found out that his card was fake, he contacted Brad Dutro at Common Cents Coins but based on the complaint, after an initial discussion, Dutro was unresponsive and unwilling to compensate Spence for the fake card.
Hi Brad, It has been a couple of days since my first email to you and telephone conversation with you. I have heard no reply. I understand that this is a bad situation. Not only am I out the cost of the card but, the appreciation in the value of this card. Jordan PSA 10 cards are selling for $85,000 - $90,000. My loss is greater...very upsetting. I respectfully request that you respond and indicate to me how you are going to proceed. I prefer not to sile [sic] a Civil Law Suit or get the FBI involved. This was a Federal Offense.
Please reply. Donald Spence
After receiving no response to a demand for a refund of $19,999.99 + 10% annual interest, they finally filed suit this past November.
This case is probably not the first, nor the last we will see regarding counterfeit cards and especially those involving Michael Jordan rookie cards. I continue to receive email after email of collectors that have been taken for thousands of dollars in purchases of believed to be real, yet ultimately fake cards.
The questions are -- who is at fault here?
Common Cents Coins, despite what appears to be a fairly good reputation on eBay, should certainly have some recourse in this transaction. They claimed and sold what they advertised as an 'original' Michael Jordan rookie card. The listing even says that 'There are no returns on graded cards unless it is misrepresented in any way." Well, I would say that this certainly involved misrepresentation and should be refunded.
What about PSA? How is it that they took in images of a card in 2017 and didn't know that it was a fake? The complaint mentions that the same card with the same cert number was in someone else's registry--likely the real card. Should PSA be at fault for accepting a card with another existing card in their registry--without comparing the two cards in question?
While the statute of limitations defense may impact only one of Spence’s claims, an adverse ruling could cause thousands of card collectors to run to their collections and start taking affirmative steps to make sure their prized possessions are genuine
This is another unfortunate blemish on our hobby, yet we will likely continue to see these courtroom battles as more fakes hit the market and fool even some of the most experienced collectors. Remember to always do your homework when buying cards from sellers you are not intimately familiar with. And even with graded cards, be sure to look up cert number and check for any recent sales of a card in question. In this case, it might have saved Spence from buying a fake card in the first place.