Feds seize $13.6M in phony NFL goods

NEW ORLEANS — Investigators have confiscated more than $13.6 million worth of phony sports merchandise over the past five months and expect to seize more in New Orleans during Super Bowl week, a federal law-enforcement official said Thursday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said authorities also have shut down more than 300 websites selling counterfeit goods as part of an enforcement effort dubbed “Operation Red Zone.”

The operation targeted international shipments of jerseys, hats and other souvenirs entering the U.S. for sale by stores, flea markets and street vendors.

More than 160,000 counterfeit items, mostly purporting to be official Super Bowl and other NFL merchandise, were seized during the operation. A total of 23 people have been arrested on related charges since September 2012.

“We attacked the counterfeiters at every point along the criminal supply chain,” Morton said during a press briefing in New Orleans.

Morton said agents also were in the city this week to crack down on the sale of counterfeit merchandise before Sunday’s Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.

“This just takes good old-fashioned police work, people getting out on the streets,” he said.

This is the fifth consecutive year that federal authorities have launched a similar operation to crack down on the sale of counterfeit sports goods. Roughly $5.1 million in goods were seized during the previous one, Morton said.

“This is the largest number we’ve ever seized,” Morton said of the $13.6 million.

Morton said copycat websites selling bogus merchandise have become increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to dupe customers into believing they’re purchasing licensed, official sportswear.

“The prices are not ridiculously low. They’re just discounted enough to fool the consumer,” he added.

Anastasia Danias, the NFL’s vice president for legal affairs, said fans also need to be wary of buying counterfeit Super Bowl tickets from “any suspicious sources.”

“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,” she said.

More in Herald Business Journal

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Panel: Motorcycle industry in deep trouble and needs help

They have failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.

Costco rises as results display big-box retailer’s resiliency

Their model has worked in the face of heightened competition from online, brick-and-mortar peers.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Tax reform needs the public’s input on spending priorities

The GOP tax plan is a good idea, but the next step should give us a voice on how taxes are spent.

Commentary: GM, Boeing fight a war of words over Mars

Boeing is strongly signaling how crucial deep-space exploration is to its future.

Under cloud of ethics probes, Airbus CEO Enders to step down

He leaves in 2019 after 14 years. Meanwhile, aircraft division CEO Fabrice Bregier leaves in February.

$4.99 sandwich promotion irks some Subway business owners

Management insists that “most franchisees support the promotion.”

Most Read