Breaking Down The Seemingly Endless Scandals Of Cardporn

September 12, 2023

The hobby has been rocked by the scandal surrounding a Michael Jordan jersey falsely photo-matched with what the legendary player wore in two 1996 NBA Playoff games.

But the case became even more consequential when it became apparent that the man behind the elaborate scam was the operator of the Cardporn account. Juan Garcia has been operating Cardporn as a hobby watchdog, but he has allegedly been involved in several scams.

Garcia has also been accused of bullying people in the hobby with accusations (often demonstrably false of wrongdoing. Confused? Let us clear it up with our overview of the many scandals of Cardporn.

Who is Juan Garcia?

Juan Garcia is the man behind the account we all know, though no longer love, known as Cardporn. He had long claimed to be “your friendly hobby watchdog.”

That account reached 112,000 followers on Instagram and gained a fair amount of influence in the hobby. Indeed, it is arguable that he was among the most influential voices in the pursuit of social media.

Garcia is Australian and lives in Melbourne. He has been involved in art for over a decade and came to the attention of the Australian media by purchasing notable aboriginal art in 2013. He later founded Foodporn, a sort of Australian Yelp where people rate restaurants around the country.

artFido is his best-known enterprise, likely where Garcia gets most of his money. According to Wikipedia, “artFido is an online auction and shopping website where people and businesses buy and sell works of art worldwide.

In addition to its auction-style listings, the website also includes ordinary fixed-price shopping.” What all of his enterprises have in common is a pretension to act as watchdogs for their relevant industries.

In his self-designated capacity as a watchdog for the hobby, he was known for engaging in several takedowns of prominent individuals, often without much evidence. Among his best-known rivals were the folks behind Sports Card Radio and Geoff Wilson, the “Sports Card Investor.”

Cardporn’s social media is down

But while going publicly as Cardporn, Garcia made his transactions under many different names, accounts, and handles. Often canceling them after transactions. That is why he has allegedly been able to pull off many scams. However, as we will see, not all of them are successful.

The Cardporn Youtube channel is currently down, as is the associated Instagram account. In addition, Garcia’s personal Instagram page with the handle Juany, as well as his phone numbers, no longer work. We doubt it will ever come back up.

The many scandals of Cardporn: The Jordan jersey  

Juan Garcia appears to have been the leading actor behind the scam currently rocking the entire sports memorabilia industry. As we reported here, there was allegedly an elaborate scam to authenticate a game-worn Michael Jordan jersey.

The jersey was purchased from Gray Flannel auctions for $26,000 on June 12, 2023. The jersey had not been conclusively matched to any specific game and, therefore, went for a relatively low price. The really high ticket game used jerseys are ones that can be photo-matched to a particular game.

Photo-matching is an involved process that includes looking at differences and imperfections from authentic game photos and matching them to a specific jersey. Garcia provided the jersey to MeiGray, the biggest and most trusted name in jersey authentication and photo-matching.

He walked into their offices on August 8 and also provided them with two photos to aid authentication. MeiGray approved the images and agreed that Jordan had worn the jersey in specific games. They weren’t just any regular season matchups, either.

They agreed that MJ had worn the same jersey in Games 3 and 4 of the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals

How was the Jordan Jersey authenticated?

Michael Russek of Grey Flannel, the company initially selling the jersey, was surprised at this development. He said, “Our consigner told us he sent it to MeiGray, and they came back with no match. We offered to do other photo-matching, but he didn’t want to waste his money.”

But MeiGray stood behind their decision. They explained that the company had used two photographs from the Tony Ranze Foundation. Ranze was the director of photography for the Lakeland Ledger, a newspaper based in Lakeland, Florida.

His photography skills were top-notch. Most importantly, he was at the relevant games covering the Orlando Magic for our purposes. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2006 after a four-year battle with multiple myeloma.

A fake foundation and photoshopped pictures

Soon, doubts emerged about the authenticity of the jersey. Zhenghao Z, a YouTuber from China, published two videos that shattered the credibility of the photo-matching authentication provided by Mei Gray.

He concluded by explaining why the company continued to defend its work: “It was a point of pride to be able to authenticate a Jordan jersey with a photo that could not be found online.”

A report in Action Network then revealed that there were serious doubts about the legitimacy of the Tony Ranze Foundation. As it turned out, his family was not aware of the existence of this organization.

His son, Nic, said, “I was my father’s executor, power of attorney, everything. I sat in on all meetings he had financially and legally the last couple of years and often was the primary caregiver as we took him to Little Rock, Arkansas, for treatments. There is no way he wouldn’t have told me about this.”

Instead, the foundation was created in July 2023. A mere month after the jersey had been purchased. Somewhat convenient! Even worse, the Tony Ranze Foundation ceased operating after the alleged scam had been revealed.

MeiGray rescinds its authentication

At first, MeiGray was quite insistent that it stands behind its work. However, it has since stepped back from that position.

But on August 31st, the company Tweeted: “On Thursday, MeiGray froze its authentication of MeiGray Authenticated No. 160092, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan red jersey. MeiGray received new information on Thursday questioning the legitimacy of the evidence used to authenticate the jersey. We are continuing to research this new information.”

Then, on September 5, they finally admitted their mistake fully.

According to an official statement: “We incorrectly authenticated the jersey based on counterfeit documentation and doctored media that we initially failed to recognize as such. MeiGray has officially rescinded the authentication of MGG No. 160092, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan red jersey submitted for authentication in August 2023 in person at our Branchburg, New Jersey office. The Letter of Authenticity and accompanying documents are void and invalid,” the company said in a statement.

Did Cardporn Create the Fake Foundation?

It is reasonably evident that the person who had the most to gain from creating a fake foundation to authenticate the jersey was Cardporn. The circumstantial evidence here is clear.

Rovell has also reported that Garcia had attempted to get PSA to establish the Jordan jersey at the 43rd National Sports Collectors Convention, which took place on July 26-30, 2023, in Chicago.

He wanted the company to slab the jersey, increasing its value immediately.  However, PSA reportedly refused to do so. Of course, the fact that Cardporn deleted all his accounts also seems like an admission of guilt.

The many scandals of Cardporn: The box of Fleer 1986 scam

The trade took place in June 2022. A man who called himself Johnathan Studdart offered to exchange an unopened box of 1986 Fleer Basketball for two high-value Michael Jordan cards.

The box appeared to have been wrapped and authenticated by Baseball Card Exchange. This individual was believed to be none other than Juan Garcia of Cardporn.

He provided the buyer with a business card, including a contact number. However, the card had his own number on it. One wonders why he didn’t just provide a fake number. After realizing Stoddard was not who he said he was, the victim of the scam DM’d the individual and asked, “Is there any insight that you can provide one with, and why you picked me as part of this scam?” He immediately deleted his account under the handle: “The.apollo.11.”

Steve Hart of Baseball Card Exchange concluded that the box was not authentic. “It was definitely resealed, and the man who committed the fraud made a major mistake. He used the same number as the one we had as an example on our website for the authentication sticker. We never used that number on a real box.”

How did Garcia get his hands on Baseball Card Exchange wrappings? He bought 1983 Olympic cards from the store in large packages. Hart explained,  “The rack pack boxes were the biggest things we sold, giving him the biggest piece of our wrapping he could work with.”

Juan Garcia’s eBay scams

Garcia has a long history of eBay sales and generally has good reviews. But in some cases, Cardporn appears to have used his account unscrupulously. Here are some examples.

The Hoody’s Scam

The revelations about an alleged pattern of scams involving the man behind Cardporn have been coming in quick and fast. Several allegations of misdeeds and deceptions have involved several eBay purchases made by Juan Garcia.

Max Barnes, general manager at Hoody’s, was reading the stories on Garcia — the man who ran Cardporn, a self-proclaimed “hobby watchdog” Instagram site that reached 112,000 followers before being deleted last week amidst the scandal.

Barnes then started to realize his company had been the latest victim. He shared his story with the Action Network.

On July 6 of this year, Garcia bought a 2007 Upper Deck Black dual patch Michael Jordan/Julius Erving auto card for $7,700 from Hoody’s Collectibles in Beaverton, Oregon. On the 10th, he purchased a 1997-98 Metal Universe PMG Clyde Drexler for $5,655.

After allegedly receiving the relevant materials, he sent the company a picture of him opening the box with nothing in it. However, Matt Barnes, who had sold him the items, noticed some issues with the video.

Barnes explained, “The envelope on top isn’t how I put it in there, and he opened the package from the bottom.” Therefore, Garcia failed to get his money back in this instance. He then complained that he had received the wrong cards and tried to get his bank to cancel the transaction.

Connecting Garcia to the scam

When the recent allegations against Garcia came to light, Barnes realized this had been part of a pattern for the individual. Therefore, he contacted Darren Rovell at Action Network and provided him with the details.

Barnes did not know the identity of the individual who pulled this trick at the time. But he matched up his address in Melbourne, Australia, with the one made public by others complaining about scams involving Garcia.

The owner of Hoody’s, Tait Hoodenpyl, said, “The fact that he tried this doesn’t surprise me. But to try someone as big as us is crazy. He definitely has done things like this many times.”

The Video Juan Garcia Sent Hoody's

The fake Jordan card (not jersey) scam

In July 2021, the following post appeared on Blowout Forums:

“Back in December, purchased a BGS Raw Card Review Michael Jordan Star Autograph #101 from a reputable (at the time 266 stars) seller named hamaze.

We completed the deal off eBay using PayPal and Discover. His eBay account (hamaze) is no longer registered. Long story short, the card was fake, and the autograph was fake. I am not sure if the BGS Raw Card Review label is affected, but I’ll find out at the National.

The seller offered a full refund if I was unhappy, which was part of the scam. It’s been a nightmare to get my money back with PayPal, Discover, and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. The seller went ghost and blocked me on WhatsApp, Phone, email, and Facebook and canceled his eBay account.

I am stuck with a fake card, disputes with PayPal/Discover/CFPB, multiple Police Reports, and a pile of stress. If I can save one person from dealing with this person, I will feel good getting some satisfaction. But I am will not stop until I am made whole.

I am not sure how much information I am allowed to post on these forums. If it is too much, please let me know. I have no idea if he has/had a Blowout account name, but I know he did frequent Facebook groups and hopes to help someone else avoid being scammed.

Ebay Seller Name: hamaze.”

We know this is Garcia because the address posted here matches the one used by Garcia in his interactions with the Baseball Card Exchange.

Lawsuit for disparaging LeBron RPA

In January this year, two collectors, Alan and Steven Spiegel, filed a complaint against Cardporn. However, because they did not know his identity then, it was filed against “John Doe.”

The complaint referred to a LeBron James patch auto that had been put on auction by Goldin Auctions. The card was a 2003-2004 Lebron James Exquisite Collection Basketball Jersey autographed rookie /99.

The Cardporn account had posted comments doubting the authenticity of the item. In particular, the report insisted that the jersey in the card was not genuine. They also claim that Garcia contacted Goldin and asked him to remove the card.  

According to the lawsuit, this directly led to Ken Goldin pulling the card from the auction. Cardporn then posted that Goldin had “done the right thing.” That led to significant loss and damages for the Spiegels, as the highest bid at the time was $690,000, and they expected to make as much as $2,000,000.

Based on that, the Spiegels sued Cardporn (or John Doe) for defamation, libel, interference with prospective economic advantage, and business and professional code violations.

According to the lawsuit, Cardporn has “a tendency to injure Plaintiffs in their respective occupations, which expose Plaintiffs to hatred, contempt, and obloquy.” Goldin reportedly agreed that the card was authentic” but he “‘couldn’t mess with Card Porn'” because it would “tarnish his business.”

Since then, the Spiegel’s have tried to get Meta and Goldin to divulge Cardporn’s identity. However, at this point, it is an open secret, and the lawsuit should be able to advance.

Final word on the many scandals of Cardporn

We all know there is no shortage of unscrupulous actors in the hobby. However, it is particularly disturbing that an individual who set himself up as “your friendly hobby watchdog” has allegedly engaged in such a high level of fraud.

But perhaps more importantly, this is one of several cases whereby the most prestigious authenticators in the hobby have been tricked. PSA has slabbed countless trimmed and altered cards.

Meanwhile, Baseball Card Exchange, the top verification company for sealed wax, was admittedly duped into verifying an unopened box of Pokemon cards bought by YouTube influencer Logan Paul. Now MeiGray, the top name in jersey authentication, has been completely fooled by Cardporn and his alleged fake foundation scam.

We hope that these institutions are not in on any of the scams, though suspicions abound in that regard. But in the best-case scenario, they are not proving particularly good at their jobs.

In their statement admitting the mistake, MeiGray said, “We recognize that the truth may not have emerged so quickly if not for the diligence and attentiveness of the game-worn community and its investigative reporters. We appreciate all who worked to get to the truth.” Indeed, that is the key.

Our community and the many brilliant and honest people are our best protection against fraud. The real “friendly hobby watchdog” is all of us. We all need to hold these companies accountable because they won’t do it themselves.