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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Panini Employee on Fox Business
(2014) – Fox Business

Fox Business anchors ask Panini North America VP Jason Howarth if Johnny Manziel’s memorabilia will go down in value if he performs poorly.

Howarth’s response, “From a memorabilia perspective, not at all. We won’t see it for a long time.” Howarth was on the show promoting $350 Manziel autograph footballs. Manziel no longer plays in the NFL.

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$200 Target Boxes?
(2014) – Panini Blog

Someone at Panini thought it was a good idea to sell $200 Basketball boxes…. exclusively at Target.

The product didn’t sell at all and Panini had to dump boxes off to group breakers and internet retailers shortly after release.

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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.

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National Treasures Shelby Miller
(2015) – Twitter

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

No – that is not a Pro Bowl jersey.

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Cowboy Confusion
(2018) Blowout Forum

A collector had some incoming packages damaged in the rain. Curious, he took the jersey pieces out of two damaged Tony Romo cards and noticed that on the back one says Dak Prescott.

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Panini Sued Over Redemption Cards
(2019) Sports Card Radio

Kevin Brashear has had enough. He popped Panini America with a civil lawsuit in January 2019 over failure to produce redemption cards in a timely manner.

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Bad Vlad
(2019) Sports Card Radio

MLB prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is seen on video throwing cards roughly into a large cardboard box during a Panini America signing session.

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TD Game Used or Not TD Game Used
(2019) Twitter

Savvy collectors notice that these Terrell Davis 2017 Panini National Treasures cards, that say game used on the back, can’t be because the NFL shield & jersey style came after Davis retired.

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Almost Flawless
(2019) Twitter

An on-card autograph of Tampa Bay Bucs fullback Mike Alstott is found on a Jack Youngblood card.

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Your Luka Doncic Autographs are Fake
(2019) YouTube

Luka’s mom signed a bunch of his Panini cards. Scrubs

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Just Don’t Do It
(2019) Twitter

A “game used” card of Ken Griffey Jr has an Under Armour cleat affixed to it. Griffey Jr was a Nike athlete for the bulk of his career. Under Armour was barely a brand. Rumors are it is a cleat of Yankees star and the pride of Linden, CA Aaron Judge. 

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(2019) Twitter

Panini applied sharpie to the backs of 2019-20 Absolute Basketball rookies. 

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We Out
(2020) Sports Card Radio

During the midst of a global pandemic, Panini decides to no longer accept expired redemption cards. 

UPDATE: After blowback from collectors, Panini reversed the policy about a week later.

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Trimmed Tom
(2020) Sports Card Radio

Court documents reveal that a trimmed Tom Brady card was inserted into a Panini America product. 

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Shut Up or Else
(2020) Sports Card Radio

Submissive card shop owner, Michael Fruitman of Mike’s Stadium Sports Cards, implies Panini America can censor his social media posts. Fruitman is among many shop owners and group breakers who routinely bow to the feet of the exclusive NBA and NFL card maker. 

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

About the author 


  • I just pulled a 2023 Three and Two Panini Willie Mays autograph numbered out if 10. The problem is; the picture is not Willie Mays on the card. It is Orlando Cepeda. Is it worth more or less now?

  • I currently on a 2018 Ben Roethlisberger NT one of one NFL Shield Patch card “Tremendous Treasures” No TT-BR. There’s an identical duplicate graded by Beckett with a different color Jersey Shield. I have the pics of both.
    Back in 2014 I redeemed a Dion Waiters card #137 serial numbered to 25 “Chinese Red Variation” . I have not received this card and it is still currently open on my panini user account. I’ve called, emailed, and only received one email response back asking me to give a list of replacement players I like. I replied with my list and still have received “Jack & Shit”, and Jack has left town. The funny thing is, I’ve received two Mike White redemption card I redeemed with no issues in 2019? Go figure.

  • I don’t buy Panini any more. I sent a redemption in about 2 years ago. Where is it? Good question. No response of any kind from them. Plus there are almost always scratched cards in the chrome type cards. Get them replaced Ha Ha Ha.

  • I have a davante parker Miami dolphins supposed game used Jersey card . However the card shows him in a number 11 Jersey but the supposed game used relic is clearly a 0 . Can I sue panini for false advertising?

  • So I have a 2017 National Convention Rookies Rainbow Spoke Alvin Kamara sp 47/40. I have looked everywhere trying to find another Alvin Kamara card with no luck. But I have found 4 more players below Kamara on the checklist error cards as well. Personally I give a shit but my 10 year old bought me that card for my PC and we can’t grade it. What are my options. I have photos of all cards and I have seen a video on YouTube of a Jamal Adams card being pulled numbered 46/40. Any help my boy just wanted to do something niceand send it off to get it graded. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated. I also have a PSA email stating why they can’t grade it as well.

  • There are 2 Tom Brady 2020 Spectra SB LIII 53 Champion Signatures Auto Patriots True #1/1 listed on eBay this very moment for 149,950.00 & 139,999.00! Both cards are EXACTLY the same but if you look at the SIGNATURES you can tell the difference! How can there be 2, TRUE 1 OF 1 of the same card??? This is EVIDENCE that they DON’T CARE about what they are selling card collector’s and they CAN’T DENY IT THIS TIME!!!

  • Just look at Chase Claypool’s Patch cards & Auto’s for sale on EBAY and you will see some of them have the tops of the # 8 in the patches and he wears # 11. That’s evidence enough to see they don’t care because # 8 looks nothing like # 11 and they aren’t hiding it period!!!

  • I get the feeling that they just don’t care. As long as people keep spending. The customer service department is basically non-existent apart from Twitter. I was told that if I complain on twitter though my redemptions will be ignored.

  • I recently bought 3 boxes of Panini Draft Picks & I can honestly say they were the worst boxes I have opened in 50 yrs of buying cards. Even though they were DRAFT PICK boxes I pulled 3 actual draft picks & received 4 autographs even though there were supposed to 2 per box & all of these 7 cards were of players that weren’t even drafted. I tried to contact Panini but couldn’t get into the site, it just kept searching & searching for over an hr, not lying. Draft Picks my ***

  • I have a 2017 Prizm Baseball autograph Willie McCovey with no autograph that I pulled in a break of 2019 Panini Chronicles baseball. I’m guessing that car twice once in 2017 and again in 2019. I did have it rated though can you back at 9.5 for Beckett.

  • I have recently seen that 2019-20 Impeccable Basketball has had an issue with the Silver/Gold bar cards, where the bars stick to the surface, rather than the indent where it should be. For photos, please message Patriots_Cards_12 on Instagram.

  • Just found a duplicate of my Ezekiel Elliott panini score gold zone auto serial numbered to /25.
    I own 19/25 but the same card (19/25) with a different auto sticker is listed on eBay.
    Fake or mistake?

  • On a very limited budget got a points card ln place of a auto go to redeem and they want to charge very high shipping for basically a left over card worth less than half of shipping fee point cards should be a extra in packs otherwise it is like paying twice to get your product gee that sounds like fraud

  • I bought a box of leather and lumber from Walmart and EVERY card was damaged. I’ve emailed panini a bunch of times and no response. Never had that problem with topps.

  • Oh yeah, and there is a website called Hollywood Memorabilia dot com that had one of the duo FGL signature cards up for over $925.

    I sent them a message concerning the issue and the card came down for a few days. Now it is back up for the reduced price of $836.99

    For a brief second I really thought there was some integrity out there.

  • Looking at the BBB and Panini Facebook page it is very obvious that their model is to push the 97% of product that works and ignore the 3% of problems their operation is causing or responsible for. The back of the Florida Georgia Line cards state plainly that Panini guarantees the signatures. They wont even answer complaints about it. Many people have redemption card problems with years going by. They do not seem to respond to damaged product either. The only customer service they want to deal with is to sell you more cards. This is a garbage company but they wont go away until people stop buying their crap.

  • 2018 football contender blaster boxes advertise being able to find major players, but every single autographed insert is from an undrafted player. They should be sued for false advertising. I will never buy another Panini product again.

  • Couple things. 2017 Donruss Football. I bought so many retail boxes of this. To the tune of over 6500 cards and have yet to complete a set. Need one card. That is total BS.
    I’m sick and tired of getting 150 point reward cards in place of promised autos in boxes. I’ve bought 6 Crown Royale boxes, I’ve received 5 reward cards and one auto. Epic fail. So glad somebody did the class action suit on redemptions. How do I get in. I have 14 owed to me dating back 10 years

  • No where near the magnitude of some of these issues, but I ordered a University of Michigan Blaster Box for a Christmas gift. They sent me MICHIGAN STATE! Thank goodness I didn’t ship it directly to the recipient! Numerous calls and emails to Panini have gone unanswered.

  • 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!!!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • I was an acquientance of a former minor league player in the Red Sox organization and 5 years ago he cautioned me on purchasing ANY autograph cards from the big card companies. He mentioned the players are often mailed sticker sheets to sign along with an ” affidavit” stating they indeed were the ones that signed. The problem is the players all think its a joke. He estimated 50% or so of these autos are fakes.

    • So I guess there were climate protests at the Yale-Harvard football game. I know these people are just trying to do a good thing for climate change. If it was me there I’d be furious What do you think about it?

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