Former Maryland Resident Sentenced for Selling Bogus Memorabilia Containing Phony Autographs
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge today sentenced an Atlanta resident to 40 months in prison for selling counterfeit and fraudulently autographed memorabilia, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.
U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke sentenced Douglas Duren, 38, of Atlanta, GA, to 40 months in prison on one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Duren pleaded guilty to the charges in March.
“My office will aggressively prosecute those who use the internet and other media to defraud the public,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “We applaud the FBI’s efforts in bringing this individual to justice.”
“By his plea, Duren has accepted responsibility for his actions; and those who were manipulated and suffered losses because of his deceit are seeing justice served,” SAC Sharp said. “If you suspect fraud, please report it to tips.fbi.gov or to your local FBI office.”
According to the plea agreement, from 2010 through October 2019, Duren sold counterfeit and fraudulently autographed memorabilia on three fraudulent websites, everymemorabilia.com, neautograph.com, and awesomememorabilia.com. Duren obtained retail items without autographs, such as sports equipment, photographs, books, and movie posters. Duren forged autographs on the memorabilia, then sold the fraudulently autographed items for a profit based on false claims of authenticity. The registration of the fraudulent websites was paid with the proceeds of his fraud scheme. Duren also advertised the fraudulent websites on two television stations located in the Northern District of Alabama, thereby defrauding the television stations and any customers who purchased autographed memorabilia from the fraudulent websites. Duren committed the fraud scheme while living in Maryland and then subsequently relocated his operation to Atlanta, Georgia.
According to the plea agreement, on May 22, 2018, Duren impersonated an account director of an advertising agency and defrauded a television station located in Birmingham, promising to pay $80,000 to a television station to advertise the fraudulent website everymemorabilia.com on their station. Duren failed to pay and discontinued contact with the television station.
On July 24, 2018, Duren impersonated an account director of a different advertising agency, and contacted a television station located in Madison County, Alabama to request advertisement services. Duren negotiated with the television station to run a four-week advertising campaign with a budget of $55,000. On July 25, 2018, Duren uploaded the file containing his advertisement to the television station’s server from his home in Maryland. The ad began running on July 30, 2018. The television station was unaware that the advertisement was for everymemorabilia.com, not the company that Duren had fraudulently represented. The advertisement ran until August 2, 2018. Duren never paid television station, nor did he intend to do so.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Pillsbury prosecuted the case.