Amazon and feds join forces on fake Super Bowl merch

Amazon has been working with the US government to try to block the sale of counterfeit Super Bowl LV merchandise before, during and after the big game today.

The online retail giant has been collaborating with National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre task force on Operation Fulfilled Action, targeting vendors at the game, online sellers and shipments of fake merch at ports of entry.

Super Bowl LV – contested by the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers later today – is expected to be a magnet for counterfeiters despite limited public attendance at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

COVID-19 restrictions means stadium capacity has been limited to 25,000 fans, making it the lowest attended Super Bowl in history.

In a statement, Amazon said its counterfeit crimes unit (CCU) will share information about counterfeits in real time with the IPR Centre, including historical information about counterfeiters and real time intelligence as law enforcement agencies conduct on-the-ground inspections and raids.

“By sharing information such as physical addresses, supply routes, shippers, consignees, and other potential fraud identifiers, Amazon and the IPR Center can more quickly and effectively stop and prevent counterfeits from reaching consumers,” said the company in a statement.

Major sporting events like this attract massive counterfeiting efforts. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security announced it had seized 169,000 counterfeit sports memorabilia items worth around $44m ahead of Super Bowl LV as part of Operation Team Player – an annual federal crackdown on the illicit trade.

Fake jerseys, hats, cell-phone accessories and thousands of other bogus items were intercepted before they could be sold to unsuspecting consumers, said DHS.

Last year’s Operation Team Player resulted in the record-breaking seizure of $123m-worth of counterfeit sports merchandise, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic much of the illegal activity has now moved online.

That means efforts have to be directed “towards commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods.”

Amazon says it prohibits the sale of counterfeit products on its websites, but is often accused of not doing enough to stem the trade.

Several of its overseas websites have just been included in the latest edition of the list of notorious markets for counterfeiting and privacy, which at the moment focuses only on marketplaces outside of the US.

That may change however, as this year’s report highlights growing concern about counterfeit products entering the US through domestic third-party online marketplaces.

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