Feds seize $16m-worth of fake sports merchandise

A US operation to crack down on counterfeit sports goods in the months leading up to this year’s Super Bowl has netted more than 170,000 illicit goods worth around $16m and resulted in 65 arrests.

The annual Operation Team Player enforcement drive has already led to 24 convictions amongst people selling or preparing to sell fake jerseys, hats, cell phone accessories and other bogus items including counterfeit tickets, both online and via retail outlets, street markets and the like.

Special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) teamed with industry, US customs, the FBI and Minneapolis police officers and other agencies in the operation, which managed a 16 per cent increase in arrests over the prior year. The value of goods intercepted was a little lower than the $20m haul reported in 2017, and so far convictions are also down.

The NFL’s vice president of legal affairs, Dolores DiBella, welcomed the operation, noting that “disrupting the sale of counterfeit merchandise and counterfeit tickets helps ensure an authentic gameday experience for all fans.”

“The NFL remains committed to consumer protection efforts year-round, and this collaboration with law enforcement is essential for every organization engaged in the fight against counterfeiting,” she added.

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