$21.6 million in counterfeit NFL goods seized ahead of Super Bowl

Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:27pm EST
 
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By Scott Malone

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Phony NFL merchandise and tickets worth $21.6 million have been seized and 50 people arrested in a crackdown on counterfeiting ahead of this weekend's Super Bowl, U.S. law enforcement officials said on Thursday.

Standing beside stacks of knock-off Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks jerseys and sweatshirts they said had been seized mostly at U.S. ports, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as the National Football League warned that bogus tickets are also a particular hazard for fans.

"You might be spending thousands of dollars on counterfeit tickets that will never get you into the stadium on game day," said Anastasia Danias, chief litigation officer for the league. "Every year hundreds of fans are turned away at the gates."

That warning came a day after a New Jersey sports memorabilia dealer sued the New York Giants, claiming the team intentionally doctored helmets and jerseys to make them look as if they had been worn on the field, and then allowed them to be sold to collectors. The Giants denied the charges.

John Sandweg, acting director of ICE told reporters the merchandise seizures, which he said were the largest ever recovered in an anti-counterfeiting sweep, were the result of a seven-month investigation.

"We are not letting up, we will continue to work through the next few days to take down the counterfeiters and scam artists," Sandweg said.

People who buy fake NFL merchandise online, often in an effort to find lower prices, run the risk of having their credit card number stolen and used in other transactions, Sandweg warned.

"What we're dealing with here are criminal organizations who are not only going to be committing this particular crime. But when they have the identifying information of the consumer, we have seen instances where they have taken advantage of that data," Sandweg said.   Continued...