2 disappointed Pokémon card collectors win case against alleged 'scammer'
Zachary Hall offered little explanation for why B.C. buyers received the wrong cards, tribunal says
A pair of collectors who say they were swindled by a "scammer" offering valuable Pokémon cards for sale have been awarded full refunds in a small claims tribunal in British Columbia.
Andrew Younes and Jalilzadeh Khiabani both filed claims against Zachary Hall after they paid hundreds of dollars for specific Pokémon cards, only to receive items that "held little or no value to them," according to a Civil Resolution Tribunal decision handed down on Wednesday.
Instead of the six Pokémon cards that Younes paid $975 for in June 2021, Hall sent him one baseball card and one basketball card, the decision says. Khiabani paid Hall $260 for a single card at around the same time, but instead received about 15 cards that were worth "a few cents or dollars each," the tribunal heard.
"Mr. Hall's failure to provide an explanation of what happened, or to explicitly deny the applicants' allegations, suggests that he knows he sent the wrong cards, whether it was on purpose or not," tribunal member Eric Regehr wrote.
Hall claimed Younes and Khiabani were both trying to make "a quick few bucks" by suing.
"At one point, Mr. Hall seems to suggest that the applicants may have received the wrong cards because 'sometimes mail gets lost or mixed' and 'people make mistakes,'" Regehr wrote.
The decision says Hall also argued the allegations against him were "false."
"It is unclear, however, whether this denial is about their allegation that they received the wrong cards or their allegation that Mr. Hall is a 'scammer,'" Regehr wrote.
Unboxing video a 'smoking gun'
The decision lays out how Younes became increasingly suspicious about Hall after sending him an e-transfer for the cards. Younes had successfully purchased Pokémon cards from Hall before using an intermediary, but for this sale, Hall argued for a direct transaction.
Younes paid for the cards on June 8, but nothing was mailed until seven days later, at which point Younes was already suspicious.
"Mr. Younes says he had found other Facebook posts where it appeared that Mr. Hall had sold the same cards to other people. He expressed his concerns to Mr. Hall on June 15, 2021, and Mr. Hall 'unsent' much of his message history with Mr. Younes, including the photos he used to sell the cards," the decision says.
But Younes had already saved the photos, and when the package arrived, he filmed video of the box being opened.
"I find that the unpackaging video is clear evidence that he received something different from what he bought," Regehr wrote.
Khiabani didn't have a similar "smoking gun," the decision says, but he did write to Hall immediately after receiving the wrong cards, and received no reply.
Along with full refunds to both buyers, Hall has been ordered to pay interest and tribunal fees.
Younes' and Khiabani's claims also named Hall's spouse Celest Robinson as a respondent, arguing she was involved in the card-selling business, but the decision says no evidence was presented to support that.
Seller also faces assault and weapons charges
In his decision, Regehr noted that Hall and Robinson have recently been the subject of a legal action filed by the director of civil forfeiture, though he said those allegations are unrelated to the sale of collector cards and remain unproven.
According to documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Hall and Robinson are subject to a consent order issued earlier this month allowing for the partial forfeiture of a 2014 Ford Fusion and more than $5,000 in cash seized during a traffic stop in November 2020.
The civil forfeiture office has alleged that the vehicle and cash were proceeds and instruments of crime related to an illegal cannabis operation — claims that Hall and Robinson denied.
The claim against the couple alleges they were pulled over by RCMP in response to calls about someone pointing a handgun at another driver.
When police stopped the car, they allegedly found a baby in the backseat, along with an imitation handgun, a stun gun, bundled cash and cannabis in jars, boxes and baggies in multiple locations.
Hall is currently facing charges of assault along with multiple weapons-related offences in relation to that incident, but has yet to go to trial.