Homeland Security busts $44 million worth of counterfeit sports goods ahead of Super Bowl LV

The agency is warning of fraudulent goods ahead of the big game.

February 03, 2021, 3:01 PM

The Department of Homeland Security announced that the agency has seized 169,000 counterfeit sports memorabilia, totaling $44 million dollars ahead of Super Bowl LV.

Agents from DHS' Homeland Security Investigations, are responsible for running "Operation Team Player" -- an annual operation which focuses on combating counterfeit goods between every Super Bowl.

PHOTO: A Special Agent with Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigation shows the imperfections in a counterfeit Pittsburgh Steelers jersey.
A Special Agent with Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigation shows the imperfections in a counterfeit Pittsburgh Steelers jersey.
Homeland Security Investigations

Counterfeit merchandise that HSI agents seize ranges from fake Tom Brady jerseys to fake championship rings and COVID-19 masks.

The agency says that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they've seen a stark decrease in counterfeit goods coming from countries.

PHOTO: Counterfeit COVID-19 masks seized by HSI agents ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fl.
Counterfeit COVID-19 masks seized by HSI agents ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fl.
Homeland Security Investigations

Last year, the same operation seized goods worth $123 million.

"Make no mistake -- intellectual property theft is not a victimless crime. American manufacturers and retailers -- and those they employ -- as well as consumers are the losers in this game," said Steve Francis, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center director. "Fans who spend their hard-earned money to support the NFL and their favorite team can rest assured that HSI and its partners are working around the clock to ensure they are getting only genuine, high-quality officially licensed merchandise in return."

PHOTO: Counterfeit rings seized by HSI agents ahead of Super Bowl LV.
Counterfeit rings seized by HSI agents ahead of Super Bowl LV.
Homeland Security Investigations

The agency says they found the counterfeit goods at flea markets, retail outlets and street vendors.

PHOTO: A counterfeit Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey sits beside an Homeland Security Agent's badge in Tampa, FL ahead of Super Bowl LV.
A counterfeit Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey sits beside an Homeland Security Agent's badge in Tampa, FL ahead of Super Bowl LV.
Homeland Security Investigations

"Operation Team Player is the most successful and long-standing collaborative effort to protect U.S. consumers from the sale of counterfeit sports merchandise and tickets," said NFL Vvce president of legal affairs, Dolores DiBella. "The NFL is grateful for the diligent and tireless work of agents and officers from the IPR Center, HSI, CBP, and Tampa area law enforcement who have undertaken anti-counterfeiting measures that protect fans not only at Super Bowl LV, but all season long."

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