Both Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), as well as the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), have announced they've raided a large-scale operation that sells fraudulent NFL and sports merchandise.
The raid in Minneapolis, Minnesota comes just ahead of the Super Bowl, where all of the agencies are going to be in attendance to not only crack down on ticket scalpers but illicit merchandise that effectively harms our economy.
The results from Operation Team Player, a year-round effort developed by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) to crackdown on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise, were revealed at a press conference hosted by the NFL with participation from ICE, CBP and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).
Federal agents said that this sting netted in the seizure of over 171,926 counterfeit sports- and entertainment-related items worth an estimated $15.69 million, and joint investigative efforts led to 65 arrests with 24 convictions.
Counterfeit goods harm America, and the government as well since they're often sold tax-free. It also greatly harms the maker's legitimate products, who take a blow to their overhead as a result of the illegal sales.
<a href="https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/operation-team-player-nets-over-15-million-fake-sports-merchandise"><b>ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said:</b></a>
<blockquote>” Intellectual property theft is a serious crime, and black-market organizations descend on the Super Bowl and other major sporting events to sell counterfeit goods and substandard merchandise to unsuspecting consumers.”</blockquote>
<blockquote>”ICE agents are committed to investigating the trafficking of counterfeit goods that wreak havoc on local economies, threaten the health and safety of the American public and fund criminal organizations engaged in other illegal activities.”</blockquote>
Federal agents have been scouring the streets of Minneapolis in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, trying to get rid of counterfeit merchandise - a scam they say has serious ramifications most people in search of a memento, never consider.
Experts say it's a very serious crime with a lot of negative consequences.
For one, the fake stuff drains the local economy, bilking it out of millions of dollars that local workers will never see.
This year’s Operation Team Player, which saw a 16 percent increase in arrests, began at the conclusion of last year’s Super Bowl. Throughout the year, the IPR Center led coordinated efforts with major sporting leagues to target contraband that impacts the economy, enables additional criminality and poses potential health and safety hazards to the public.
“Collaborative efforts like Operation Team Player put the health and safety of the American people and the vitality of our economy first,” said Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “CBP is proud to partner with ICE, the IPR Center and local authorities to ensure businesses and consumers are protected from intellectual property thieves.”
"All that money is going back to China and is funding black market criminal organizations that are involved in other illicit activities like drug trafficking and forced labor," said Matthew Bourke, Department of Homeland Security.
“As the Super Bowl approaches, consumers should be vigilant when they’re purchasing fan gear because illicit trade carries consequences that linger far after the fourth quarter,” said David Hirschmann, president, and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center.
Hirschmann continued, “Counterfeiters sell substandard products, jeopardize consumers’ personal and financial information, and undermine American jobs and innovation. Fans deserve the real deal: Only purchase known brands from known sellers that bear the official holographic marks of authenticity.”
How can you be sure that what you're getting isn't doing that? First, start with the tag.
"The first thing you should look for is a UPC code that's going to be on the tag," said Bourke. "You'll never find this on the counterfeit jersey."
Most of the real stuff will also have a hologram. Some fakes are better than others, and appear to include one.
"But it's not a legitimate hologram that, if you turned it to the left or right, the picture doesn't change. It's just a silver sticker," said Bourke.
Be sure to watch who you buy merchandise from America. Every dollar spend with one of these illegal dealers hurts this country.
Why her you're boycotting the Super Bowl or not, it's crucial you don't support these illegal operations
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