Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing typically sold at and around these events. Additionally, authorities have seen an increase in the sale of counterfeit tickets being sold to these events. Large sporting events are prime targets for counterfeiters, many of whom travel the country with the sole intention of scamming innocent sports fans. According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, businesses worldwide lose an estimated $600 – 700 billion annually due to counterfeiting.
"Major sports events like the home opener can create a ripe environment for criminal groups to exploit the enthusiasm of fans by marketing counterfeit goods and tickets," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "We want the community to enjoy their experience and not have to worry about being victimized by these scammers. By looking out for some basic red flags, fans can act as the first line of defense against these types of schemes."
"The Detroit Tigers want everyone to know we take counterfeiting very seriously," said Duane McLean, executive vice president of business operations for the Detroit Tigers. "We work closely with local law enforcement agencies, HSI, and our ballpark concessionaire Delaware North Sportservice year round, and want to ensure patrons we are on the lookout for counterfeiters, who will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Although counterfeiters are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, fans can keep several key factors in mind when making purchases to avoid being victimized:
- Purchase tickets and memorabilia at authorized retail locations and licensed online vendors, such as the official team stores, rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
- Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
- If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, while some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or two-for-one deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point. Purchasing merchandise from authorized dealers helps guarantee the product and provides a reputable source for concerns, returns and exchanges.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.
The HSI-led IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.