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Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
03/27/2015

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ICE, CLC warn fans about fake tickets, merchandise ahead of NCAA March Madness games

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — As basketball fans from all over the country prepare for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)  Men’s Basketball Tournament Regional Finals, which include the Eastern Regional games and the Regional Final game hosted at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the NCAA’s licensing agent, warned the public to beware of counterfeit merchandise and tickets.

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 events like these. Large sporting events are prime targets for counterfeiters, many of whom travel the country with the sole intention of scamming innocent sports fans.

"Major sports events like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship can create a ripe environment for criminal groups to exploit the enthusiasm of fans by marketing counterfeit goods and tickets," said Brian Devine, resident agent in charge of HSI Syracuse. "We want the community to enjoy their experience without any fear of being victimized by these distributors of counterfeit goods and we want to reassure patrons that we are on the lookout for counterfeiters, and will pursue criminal prosecution of those engaged in this activity. By looking out for some basic red flags, fans can act as the first line of defense against these types of schemes."

“As the licensing agent of the NCAA, CLC is proud to collaborate with HSI in collegiate trademark enforcement at all major NCAA Championship events,” said Bruce Siegal, CLC senior vice president and general counsel. “It’s important that fans looking for a commemorative item get the genuine article, the sale of which directly supports participating schools.”

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 Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (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 23-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.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/27/2015