Former Owner of Internet Sports Memorabilia Businesses Pleads Guilty To $2.5 Million Fraud Scheme
HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a former owner of a group of internet sports memorabilia businesses pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, in Harrisburg, to a $2.5 million dollar fraud scheme.
The Criminal Information was filed in January 2016 pursuant to a plea agreement entered into between the United States and 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, Joshua Aaron 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 created, owned, and operated internet businesses under 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.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The charge of Wire Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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