If you'll be wearing T-shirts or other sports gear to cheer on your favorite football team in the Super Bowl this weekend, note this...
Millions of dollars worth of counterfeit sports merchandise has been seized by teams of federal investigators and state and local police around the country.
“Operation Team Player” began in June to target international shipments of the goods as they entered the U.S. from China and elsewhere.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say some 202,000 Super Bowl-related items were confiscated – fake jerseys, ball caps, T-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Klumb says the crackdown stopped the sale of more than $21-million worth of bogus items.
“The counterfeit products tend to be inferior in quality, so people who are looking for a high-quality item that's approved by the NFL or similar sports organizations are typically getting cheap knock-offs,” Klumb told WVOC.
“Also, it's the property rights of the license holder, the trademark holder, that are being stolen here. These are typically not domestic operations. The money's going overseas and not supporting the economy of this country.”
Klumb says agents with the Charleston office of Homeland Security Investigations focused on websites that sold the fake goods.
He says they made undercover buys and seized 27 different domain names, and similar investigations in other locations cracked down on another 136 websites.
There have been 50 arrests around the country related to “Operation Team Player” so far.
(Photo courtesy of ICE)