This year's fake Super Bowl goods haul? Almost $100m

Another NFL Super Bowl, and another massive enforcement operation yielding millions of dollars in counterfeit merchandise.

Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) seized hundreds of thousands of fake goods, worth nearly $100m, ahead of the big game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, edged by the Rams in a close fought contest.

Operation Team Player is an annual, year-round effort to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise, and this year's haul of counterfeits was a big step up over the prior year in both the number and value of goods seized.

The operation uncovered 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items from online marketplaces, flea markets, retail outlets, pop-up shops and street vendors in the weeks building up to the contest, up from 169,000 items last year with a value of $45 million.

It is however below the record $123m-worth of fake gear seized in 2020. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, much of the illegal activity moved online, pushing HSI's efforts more towards commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods.

The seized items included fake jerseys, hats, rings, T-shirts, jackets, tickets, souvenirs, and thousands of other sports related memorabilia prepared to be marketed as legitimate, authentic items.

"Although the scale of global intellectual property theft and intellectual property rights violations have increased with the rapid growth of e-commerce platforms, law enforcement efforts have remained laser focused on disrupting supply chains to stop the flow of illicit goods into the US," said Steve Francis, acting executive associate director for HSI.

“Our collaboration with the NFL is one critical step in our global effort to prevent criminals from profiting from unsuspecting consumers through the sale of counterfeit trademarked sports apparel and merchandise," he added.

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