Panini America Greatest Hits of Fraud, Scams & Mistakes

Here are the top mistakes, blunders, scams and/or boo-boos in the short history of Panini America’s presence in the U.S. sports card market since 2009.

Magic Johnson Autographs on Jordan Swagerty Cards
(2010) – The Magic Mistake

The first high profile mistake by Panini. The company affixed Lakers legend Magic Johnson sticker autographs on then baseball prospect Jordan Swagerty Donruss Elite cards. Swagerty never made it out of AA and Panini ended up wasting 905 Magic Johnson autographs on Swagerty cards.

2012 Panini Contenders Russel Wilson RC Ticket Variation
(2012) – Odd Things Afoot

For a card supposedly limited to #/25 copies according to everywhere you look, why Beckett Grading has graded 73 is a fair question. Are some of the autographs fake or did he sign more than expected?

Dealer Tells FBI Card Companies Knowingly Buy Fake Jerseys
(2012) – NY Daily News

Sports memorabilia dealer Bradley Wells, who pled guilty to mail fraud in 2012, sold bogus game-used jerseys to all the prominent trading card manufacturers. Wells acknowledged he was involved in “dirtying up” jerseys and gloves to make them look game used.

In a stunning claim, Wells told the FBI Panini America, Upper Deck and Topps knew they were purchasing phony game-used jerseys to insert in trading cards.

Panini Flawless Game Worn Scam
(2014) – YouTube Video

Perhaps the worst known blunder to date for Panini (until Dak Autopen). This was a scam because of Panini’s explanation of what occured. The company wrote on their blog that cards found in 2014 Flawless Football were mistakenly labeled “game-worn” instead of “event-worn”. Their explanation makes no sense.

One card in question was a Ryan Tannehill card serial numbered #/10. Panini claimed one of the ten cards was mistakenly labeled as “game worn”, while the other nine were correctly labeled as “game worn”. When has Panini or any card company made a card serial numbered #/10 and labeled 9 as game worn and 1 as event worn? They simply put the wrong patches inside the cards and got caught.

2014 Panini Patch Database

At the 2014 Las Vegas Industry Summit Panini announced the plans for a patch database featuring high-end cards. A small QR code was to be added to the back of cards. Collectors could then scan those codes and find the image of the card as it comes off the line from Panini. If the card did not match the image, it’s a fake patch card.

This plan never came to fruition and perhaps such a database would prevent Panini from getting away with more scams.

2014 National Treasures Odell Beckham “Wave 2”
(2015) – Forum Thread

Group breakers and collectors noticed no Odell Beckham RC cards were being pulled from boxes of 2014 National Treasures Football. This sparked a lengthy debate about collation, hand packed products, and other cards that may have been impacted.

Panini never officially released a statement regarding the matter. Beckham cards were eventually found inside boxes, in what collectors dubbed “wave 2” of the product.

National Treasures Shelby Miller
(2015) – Twitter

Something Hillary and Trump supporters can agree on, don’t ever do this on a trading card.

National Treasures Whitey Ford
(2015) – Twitter

A 1/1 “game used” card of Whitey Ford featuring a Majestic logo. Problem being Majestic began making MLB jerseys in 1982 and Ford retired in 1967.

2,000 Bogus Jim Thorpe Relic Cards
(2015) – Hauls of Shame

A long post about relic cards created from a fraudulent New York Giants Jim Thorpe jersey. The jersey was originally sold by Barry Halper at Sotheby’s in 1999.

Kristaps Porziņģis Flawless 1/1 Found in Immaculate Box
(2016) – Forum Thread

A Kristaps Porziņģis Flawless 1/1 NBA Logoman Rookie card, a huge hit, was found inside a box of the wrong NBA product.

2015-16 Panini Replay Basketball
(2016) – Forum Thread

This product was so bad…. or worse then normal….. that Panini received a ton of heat from card dealers. Panini offered a set of Panini Prizm Mosaic cards for those stuck with boxes. Original factory cost for Panini Replay was $191, boxes quickly dropped to around $60.

Panini HRX Cards Redeemed Without Video
(2016) – Forum Thread

In 2011 Panini’s Tracy Hackler called HRX revolutionary, and boldly predicted the cards would “take the trading card category to new heights by providing up to 30 minutes of HD-quality video content.”

Years later, collectors continued to wait on redemptions for HRX video cards. Panini ended up sending some HRX cards without working video after ditching the project altogether.

2016 National Treasures Football Disaster
(2017) – Panini Announcement

Another “mislabeled” situation with another high profile card. This time a 1/1 of Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Tom Brady and John Elway that was pulled live on camera and ended up on eBay. After persistent collectors called out Panini on social media, Panini issued a statement.

The card, labeled game used on the back, features Mitchell and Ness logos for Marino and Elway. Panini admitted in an article that those were player worn pieces. They noted other cards were also incorrectly labeled.

Mistakes in 2016 National Treasures Football:
#16 Peyton Manning/Dan Marino/Tom Brady/John Elway (Marino and Elway are player-worn)
#17 Eric Dickerson/Adrian Peterson/Jamal Lewis/Barry Sanders (Sanders is player-worn)
#20 Peyton Manning/Brett Favre/Dan Marino/Drew Brees (Marino is player-worn)

Fake Takkarist McKinley Autographs
(2017) – ESPN

Wow, just weeks after the previous disaster, Panini blows it again! This time the company confirmed autographs of 2017 NFL Draft prospect Takkarist McKinley were not signed by him.

Autopen Dak Prescott Autographs?
(2017) Sports Card Radio

Dallas Cowboys superstar Dak Prescott is believed to have used an autopen to sign his 2016 Panini Prizm rookie cards.

No card story has received this much media attention in years. ESPN, Deadspin, Washington Post, USA Today and many others covered the scandal.

Panini issued a statement that said:

They didn’t know where the cards came from. Some of the cards may or may not be real. Some of the cards in question are still missing.

Brian Kelley & Tyler Hubbard Florida Georgia Line Autopen
(2017) Blowout Cards Forum

After it was discovered Dak Prescott used an autopen, collectors began to look closely at more cards in question. It’s widely believed country music stars Brian Kelley & Tyler Hubbard used a machine to sign their 2014 Panini Country Music cards.

Panini has yet to release a statement, but they did remove several autographs that were for sale of Kelley and Hubbard on their website.

The Little Details Add Up
(2017) Twitter


Dwight Clark autograph on David Carr card.


Ezekiel Elliot card missing autograph.


Adam Thielen card missing autograph.

Dalvin Cook didn’t play for Michigan.

No – that’s not a UNC jersey.

Feel free to post your own experiences with Panini America in the comment section.

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National Treasures Manning, Brady, Marino, Elway 1/1. Something looks very wrong.... - Page 6 - Blowout Cards Forums - April 26, 2017

[…] I don't think this has been posted, it's a run down of some of the Panini blunders/mistakes/fraud whatever you want to call it. I do find it crazy nothing has been done about any of it. Panini America Greatest Hits of Fraud, Scams & Mistakes | Sports Card Radio […]

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Name your favorite Panini Screw Up Thread - Page 3 - Blowout Cards Forums - April 27, 2017

[…] Panini America Greatest Hits of Fraud, Scams & Mistakes | Sports Card Radio __________________ <——Looking for a signed/buyback autograph version of my avatar. Please let me know if you have any leads. […]

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Dana Waddell - May 25, 2017

Has anyone ever received a game used card without the jersey?

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Mike - July 2, 2017

Also.. Dak Precott Prizm autographs were signed by auto pen. The 2012 Contenders autographs signed by different people, i.e. rG3, Tannehill luck, Alshon among others. Sucks only one company makes football and basketball cards.

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Todd Stilo - July 5, 2017

Panini’s 2017 Select basketball card hobby boxes have been suspect as well. The number of duplicate cards contained in those boxes seems to be extraordinarily high. I bought 10 boxes of which approximately half were duplicates. I did not come close to completing the set. The high number cards were very minimal at best while the second tier, although, was only marginally better. I have been collecting cards a long time and have never had such poor results in completing a set with so many boxes. The Panini Selec boxes are rather expensive as well. I contacted Panini several times with no avail. I am extremely disappointed with what appears to be a total lack of respect for the customer. Needless to say they have one less customer. By the way I have bought their select basketball cards in years past and never had such poor results in the proportion of duplicate cards.

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    Bill - July 11, 2017

    I agree. I only purchased 2 boxes, but was also disappointed. Box says 3 hits per box. I only found 2 per box..and both were crappy jersey cards. No Auto’s. I am done with Panini products.

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Anonymous - July 5, 2017

NFL should bring back TOPPS

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Mat - July 12, 2017

2016 Panini Encased Adam Vinatieri and Pat Mcafee Game worn Pro Bowl Jersey.
I know for a fact that is not game worn because Pat Mcafee has the jersey hanging in his house framed.

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Clayton - August 1, 2017

Sam Bradford Mirror Black 1/1 not being packed out and then sent out as a replacement, which at the time was the biggest hit in the product. I believe that and a few other monster cards that were thought to be packed out were also issued as replacements to a single collector. I can’t find the thread on Blowout, but it was quite the hot topic for some time when it happened.

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Anonymous - September 27, 2017

Got some 2017 Panini gold standard boxes,total garbage,so sad! Oh how I wish topps would take over football.oh well no more Panini. I will just 😥😢😗😨😰😧😭😭😭😭😭Cry!!!!!

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