Homeland Security Investigations has seized nearly $100 million in fake goods, including counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise, ahead of Sunday’s big game, a top HSI official told reporters on Thursday.
HSI is the Department of Homeland Security’s investigative arm.
Steve Francis, who serves as the agency’s executive associate director, said at a press conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center that stealing intellectual property is not a “victimless crime.”
“The illicit proceeds resulting from the sale of counterfeit or unlicensed products are more often than not funneled back to smart other criminal organizations,” Francis said. “But more importantly, the illegal manufacture and sale of these counterfeit goods represent predatory trade practices that endanger the public health and economy and restrict competitiveness of the United States products in the global market."
“Millions” of dollars of merchandise from 261 vendors have already been seized leading up to the game, according to Lt. Geoff Deedrick with the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
Deedrick told consumers to be alert about counterfeit goods -- look for official NFL holograms on the products and if it's too good to be true than it is.
Pete Flores, the executive assistant commissioner at U.S. Customers and Border Protection, told ABC News that not only are counterfeit goods dangerous for national security but could cause bodily harm. He said the consumer doesn't know what the product is made of and where the product is coming from,
Flores said there isn’t one particular place where it is coming from.
“It comes from multiple countries,” he said. “So multiple importers, it comes from all over the world. So it's it's an issue and it's not only arriving here, it's a no by sea by air by land. It's coming across in different modes of transportation.”