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Is Selling Fake Pokémon Cards Illegal? Your Complete Guide

Hey there fellow Pokémon fan! I‘m Steven Erikson, data wizard and gaming expert here at You asked the excellent question – is it actually against the law to sell fake Pokémon cards? Well, I dove deep into the legal codes and came back with all the details you need, as selling counterfeit Pokémon merchandise can absolutely get you into criminal trouble.

The short answer is yes – selling fake Pokémon cards is a crime punishable by fines and even jail time. Both federal and state laws prohibit trafficking in counterfeit goods. Let‘s explore why this is and how to avoid accidentally buying or selling fake cards yourself.

Why Fake Pokémon Cards Are Worthless

I know Pokémon cards can get really pricey these days! It‘s tempting to save some cash with fakes, but it‘s just not worth it. Counterfeit cards have no value compared to real Pokémon cards for a few big reasons:

  • You can‘t play them in official Pokémon TCG tournaments or leagues. All those fakes would be spotted immediately and disqualified! Only authentic cards are allowed.
  • No collector value. Serious Pokémon collectors want the real deal. Fakes are essentially worthless to them no matter how real they may look.
  • Inferior quality. The card stock, ink, colors, and feel give away most counterfeits if you know what to look for.
  • No secondary market. Fake cards can‘t be professionally graded by PSA or sold on big auction sites like eBay. No demand equals no value.

Here‘s a table summarizing why counterfeits aren‘t worth the legal risk:

Fake Pokémon Cards Real Pokémon Cards
– Can‘t be played in tournaments + Tournament legal
– No collector demand + High collector demand
– Inferior quality + Premium quality
– No secondary market + Active secondary market worth billions

As you can see, real Pokémon cards have actual value, while counterfeits are worthless for play and collecting. Definitely not worth becoming a criminal over!

Selling Fake Pokémon Cards Breaks Laws

Now that we know why fake Pokémon cards have no legitimate value, let‘s look at why trafficking in them is very much illegal.

Federal Laws Against Counterfeits

At the national level, the two main laws that prohibit dealing in fake Pokémon merchandise are:

  • Trademark Counterfeiting Act – This makes it a felony under federal law to intentionally manufacture, sell, or transport counterfeit goods and services. Penalties for a first offense can include up to $2 million in fines and up to 10 years in prison!
  • Trademark Dilution Revision Act – Prohibits using registered trademarks like Pokémon in unauthorized ways that dilute their value. Violations can lead to fines up to $2 million.

As you can see, Uncle Sam does not mess around when it comes to counterfeit goods!

State Laws

In addition to federal laws, most states have their own laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of counterfeit trademark items. For example:

  • In California, selling fake Pokémon cards could be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Punishments can include fines up to $1,000 per offense and jail time up to 3 years.
  • In New York, trafficking in counterfeits is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • In Florida, selling counterfeit goods over $1,000 in value jumps to a felony with maximum 5 years prison time.

The table below summarizes key counterfeiting laws and penalties:

Law Penalty
Federal Trademark Counterfeiting Act (felony) Up to $2 million fine and 10 years prison
California Counterfeiting Laws (misdemeanor or felony) Up to $1,000 fine and 3 years prison per offense
New York Counterfeiting Laws (Class A Misdemeanor) Up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine
Florida Counterfeiting Law (felony) Up to 5 years prison if over $1,000 value

Yikes! As you can see, selling fake Pokémon cards could land you behind bars or with crippling fines. Not fun.

What To Do If You Bought Fake Pokémon Cards

Okay, mistakes happen. But if you realize you were accidentally sold counterfeit Pokémon cards, here are some smart options:

  • Contact the seller politely. Explain the cards are fake and ask for a refund or replacement. Provide clear evidence like comparison photos if needed.
  • Report the seller. Alert online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon that the seller is violating counterfeiting policies so their listings can be removed.
  • Leave detailed negative feedback. This helps prevent others from being scammed by the same seller.
  • Consult an attorney. If you lost a significant amount of money, speak to a lawyer about options for recovering your funds.
  • Contact authorities. For large scale counterfeiting operations, brand owners like Pokémon may want law enforcement involved.

The earlier you act, the better chances you have of getting your money back without things getting messy.

Avoiding Fake Pokémon Cards When Buying

Now let‘s talk about how to avoid buying counterfeit Pokémon cards in the first place when shopping online or from unknown sellers.

Key Red Flags of Fake Pokémon Cards:

  • Too cheap – Abnormally low prices compared to current market value for that card. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Stock photos – Listings that use generic stock photos instead of pictures of the actual card for sale. Never a good sign.
  • Shady seller – Anonymous sellers with little feedback history or new profiles are riskier.
  • Spelling/printing errors – Typos, low resolution printing, or incorrect details are telltale signs of fakes.
  • Unofficial packaging – Real Pokémon cards only come sealed in official wrapping from the company.

Safest Places to Buy Pokémon Cards:

  • Official retailers – Big box stores like Target, Walmart, GameStop. Reputable hobby shops.
  • Top auction sites – eBay heavily polices counterfeits. Look for highly rated sellers.
  • Direct from collectors – Those who post in enthusiast forums and groups often sell extras.
  • Professional grading services – PSA and BGS only authenticate and grade real cards with proven value.

The bottom line – buy smart and avoid shady sellers or deals that seem too good to be true. With some caution, you can comfortably find authentic Pokémon cards from trustworthy sources.

I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive overview explaining why selling fake Pokémon cards is very much illegal and just not worth the huge risks. Let me know if you have any other Pokémon related questions! This data wizard is always happy to help fellow fans and collectors.