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July 18, 2022Houston, TX, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

Authorities caution consumers to beware of counterfeit merchandise during Premier League soccer match in Houston

HOUSTON – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Houston, Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Premier League are cautioning fans to be on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise and tickets during the upcoming Premier League preseason soccer match between Manchester City and Club America on July 20 at NRG Park in Houston.

Counterfeiters routinely target major sporting venues and other entertainment events such as the Premier League soccer match to illegally sell counterfeit apparel, merchandise, and tickets.

“Contrary to popular belief, counterfeiting is not a victimless crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson, HSI Houston. “It significantly impacts small businesses that do things the right way, harms consumers who unknowingly purchase substandard items, violates the rights of the trademark holder, and in some cases the illicit proceeds are used to fund transnational criminal activity such as human trafficking and drug trafficking.”

“Public-private sector partnerships are the key to success at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center),” said Jim Mancuso, IPR Center director. “By joining forces, HSI, CBP and the Premier League are working together to ensure soccer fans around the world spending their hard-earned money to support their favorite club only receive genuine, high-quality, officially licensed merchandise in return.”

“CBP is vigilant in its efforts to intercept counterfeit and pirated goods aimed at lining the pockets of transnational criminal organizations while taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers and businesses,” Houston CBP Director of Field Operations Jud Murdock. “We take every opportunity to join our law enforcement partners in seeking out and disrupting the flow of illegitimate goods especially ahead of a major sporting event like the upcoming Premiere League soccer match, here.”

To help consumers avoid becoming victims of counterfeiting during the soccer match in Houston, authorities are encouraging the public to exercise due diligence when purchasing merchandise or tickets that you believe might be counterfeit. Specifically, fans are encouraged to:

  • Shop only at authorized retail locations, rather than street vendors, flea markets or other questionable sources.
  • Avoid purchasing items where the price seems too good to be true. (On average, official replica jerseys should be priced at $90. If they are discounted by 30% or higher, they are likely to be counterfeit.)
  • Check for poor stitching, ripped tags, irregular markings, or misspellings on apparel.
  • Ensure items have the official Club branded packaging with labels, tags, and hologram.
  • Always purchase tickets directly from the soccer club or from an authorized vendor/partner.

HSI works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement through Operation Team Player, a year-round effort developed by the IPR Center, to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise. Last year, between February 2021 and February 2022, the IPR Center seized more than 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items worth an estimated $97.8 million during Operation Team Player.

For more than two decades, the IPR Center, working collaboratively with its public-private sector partners, has led the effort in the government's response to combat global intellectual property theft and enforce intellectual property rights violations. The center was established to combat global intellectual property theft – and, accordingly, has a significant role policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.

Updated: 07/22/2022