PSA Cross Grading Horror Story! Why Low End Sports Card Grading Companies Are Dangerous!

I want to share all of my ups and downs of sports card collecting with all of you. It's very easy to copy what everyone else is doing. I don't want to do that. No "is the sports card or NFT market crashing?" click-baity headlines here people. Just true, real world experiences as I re-enter the hobby strong.

Ups and DOWNS. My first PSA submission was returned, with a HORRIBLE result. I thought I could make a profit via Cross-Grading. I talk about it more in my book, available at, but it's essentially where you buy a slabbed/graded card from a lesser tier grading company with a high grade, and send it in to a reputable grading company like PSA or SGC to have them re-grade it and slab it.

This, assuming it gets graded and slabbed, results in an easy 3x-5x return on your investment.

So, what happened to me?

Well, I bought a Michael Jordan 1990 Skybox card, graded GEM MINT 10 by GEM GRADING, INC.

I paid around $60-70 for it.

I knew sending it into PSA would cost me $64, regardless of how PSA returned it to me.

I even knew there was a risk that PSA wouldn't grade it at all and I'd be out all $125-$130.

Well, that my friends is what happened.

PSA found that the card had been altered. Trimmed in fact.

When this happens, PSA simply returns it with no grade, in a Card Saver I case.

So, I bought the world's most expensive single empty Card Saver.

Am I disappointed? Absolutely. Am I mad or upset? No.

Did I get scammed by the seller? Maybe, but probably not.

The real scammers are two fold:

1. The person who trimmed the card and submitted it to GEM GRADING.
2. GEM GRADING, for grading all of their cards 10s regardless of true grade or alternations.

The reality is that this card is worth NOTHING.

This experience actually makes me thankful to legit grading companies like PSA and others for maintaining integrity.

This is a data point for me to get better as an investor and businessperson, and collector of course.

This is also a valuable piece of content I can share with you all. And with my first ever real grading submission a complete disaster, there's nowhere to go but up for me!!!!

Do not buy anything ever that says GEM GRADING on it, and don't ever assume that just because one company has graded a card high, that a cross-grading to PSA will result in a desirable outcome.

Paul Hickey is a Digital Creator, spending about about 60% of his work time building WordPress websites for small businesses, 20% of his work time running an eCommerce Sports Cards and Digital Collectibles business at and another 20% of his work time authoring books and creating digital art in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

In each of his entrepreneurial endeavors, he believes it's important to create a community. He strives to do this by creating helpful content for his audience (community members) to learn about the topics he's interested in.

This is why he creates content on the following topics:


  1. Bobby Milam on June 8, 2021 at 9:20 pm


    Your ideas sound great. Where in Middle Tennessee will you be ?

    Just joined.

    • Paul Hickey on June 9, 2021 at 7:57 am

      Hi Bobby!
      Thanks so much for joining. Let me know what kinds of cards you’re looking for and if you have any questions regarding the site or your membership. I want this to be a great experience for you and all the other members.

      I will be in Thompsons Station, TN for the summer.


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