Defendants in large-scale Internet fraud case make deals with prosecution

sports memorabilia fraud
Two suspects in a Youngstown sports memorabilia fraud ring sit in court in October.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Following deals made by four other defendants, two defendants have agreed to work with Mahoning County prosecutors concerning their roles in a massive Internet identity fraud case.

Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond said prosecutors are working their way up the chain to convict more suspects involved in the case.

Late Tuesday morning, both Jason Moore of Austintown and Steven Joseph Mulinchak, who now lives in Nevada but is originally from Mineral Ridge, pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity — the state’s version of racketeering.

Prosecutors said the men were involved in the sale of sports memorabilia items with the forged signatures of star athletes. Authorities said many of the items were sold on the e-commerce website, eBay, to victims around the country.

According to Desmond, one suspect made approximately $20,000 to $25,000 from the sales, and the other netted more than $100,000.

In late August, four other suspects charged in relation to the investigation pleaded to similar charges and had been scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday. Prosecutors, however, asked for a delay in the hopes that the suspects will testify against others involved in the scheme.

“We’re working our way to the people who were more involved, have more culpability, more dollar amounts we can attribute to them,” Desmond said.

Prosecutors have said the suspects sold more than $2 million in fake merchandise over a five-year period. Investigators said, at one time, both Moore and Mulinchak were roommates with others who were part of the enterprise but have not yet been arrested. They also agreed to cooperate in future cases.

“We’re about half way through. We have several more that we’re planning to do in the next couple weeks, and then plan to seek indictment,” Desmond said.

WKBN has been informed that this is the largest fraud case ever to involve eBay and could be the largest of its kind in Mahoning County’s history.

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