Feds confiscate $13.6 million in fake NFL, Super Bowl merchandise

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 7:01 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- When it comes to Super Bowl gear, it's hard to tell the real thing from the fakes.

"You want to make sure if you're in town and you're buying something that at least you're getting authentic merchandise, so you're not walking away with something that's counterfeit," said Ravens fan Ronald Barbour who was shopping in the French Quarter.

Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents showed off some the 160,000 pieces of bogus merchandise confiscated so far.

"Everything from hats to jerseys to Nike shoes," said ICE Director John Morton. "My personal favorite is this counterfeit Super Bowl ring from Super Bowl XLIV, which was in Miami."

Federal agents have seized more than $13.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during "Operation Red Zone," which began last fall and will continue through the Super Bowl.

"We targeted illegal sales throughout the country including stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit Super Bowl and NFL goods," said Morton. "We seized the Internet domain names of websites selling counterfeit sports goods." Super Bowl visitors in New Orleans say they're happy that the feds are cracking down on counterfeit gear.

"You can't tell unless you really know the quality, unless you've really put a magnifying glass to it," said Barbour. "You can't tell whether it's authentic or not."

"You know the fake stuff is almost as much as the regular stuff," said 49ers fan Linda Hamilton. "I'd rather get the real stuff than the fake stuff."

Law enforcement is also on the look out for counterfeit Super Bowl tickets.

"We learn of hundreds of fans every year who travel to the host city with the hope of watching their team play in the Super Bowl game only to be turned away at the gate having bought counterfeit tickets or tickets that were reported lost or stolen," said Anastasia Danias, NFL vice president for legal affairs.

According to the NFL, the only way to know for sure that you're getting the real deal is to make sure you purchase your ticket through an authorized reseller such as the NFL Ticket Exchange.

 

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