Spennymoor men guilty after sales of fake sports memorabilia

A fake certificate of authenticity.
A fake certificate used to fraudulently authenticate the memorabilia and below, a fake Arsenal shirt sold by the pair.

A Spennymoor man who was part of a wider scheme to sell fake sports memorabilia to unwitting fans has been sentenced in court.

Durham County Council took legal action against Anthony McCabe, of Durham Road, Spennymoor, and John Ruddick, of Front Street, Spennymoor, following an investigation by the council’s Trading Standards team.

The investigation began in February 2018 following a complaint that an eBay user was selling memorabilia with fake autographs.

A fake signed Arsenal shirt.
A fake signed Arsenal shirt.

Enquiries showed that between 2014 and 2018, McCabe sold over 876 football, rugby, and other shirts claiming to be signed by famous sports people and advertised as one hundred per cent genuine.

The signatures had been added to the shirts by McCabe using black marker pen and were sold with a false Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that he had created.

Money from the sale of the shirts was sent from various PayPal accounts into Ruddick’s bank account, which he allowed to be withdrawn and re-banked.

Into Ruddick’s account there were 294 deposits from PayPal between 31March 2014 and 24 April 2018, totalling £44,337.51.

Ruddick, 61, pleaded guilty at Durham Crown Court on Wednesday, 11th November, to charges of transferring criminal property.

He was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and a two-month curfew was imposed restricting him to his home from 7pm to 7am. 

McCabe, 37, also pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and a charge of transferring criminal property. He will be sentenced in six months’ time to allow him an opportunity to raise funds and compensate those who have been affected by his actions.

Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s public protection manager, said: “This case involves a high degree of victim detriment which was both committed over an extended period of time and left victims with items that are worthless. 

“In some of these instances, victims purchased items to be gifted on as presents which only adds to the distress and upset that has been caused.

“This investigation should serve as a warning that our Trading Standards team will thoroughly investigate those trading fraudulently. 

“This should also send a clear message to anybody contemplating laundering criminal money on behalf of a third party that they could end up before the courts as well.”


Residents can get advice about consumer and Trading Standards issues from the consumer helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.

They can also follow the work of the council’s Trading Standards team on Facebook.

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