You May Be Getting Duped When Buying ‘Official’ NFL Merchandise

Is that sweatshirt really a knockoff?

Counterfeiters, often based overseas, have plagued professional sports for years. They often pop up in the postseason when demand for jerseys and other fan items is hot.

An online search of the phone number turned up numerous complaints from fans about fake merchandise being sold from various websites.

The websites’ operator could not be reached for comment.

Bengals’ Merchandise Manager Monty Montague confirmed for ABC News that the website is rogue: “This is not affiliated with the Cincinnati Bengals and is a website I have submitted to the National Football League because in my opinion it was one selling counterfeit Bengals merchandise.”

“Operation Team Player” involved U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other agencies targeting warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors suspected of selling counterfeit goods.

The operation involved the seizure of more than more than 397,000 items of phony sports clothing and memorabilia with a combined retail value of $37.8 million along with arrests of individuals involved, officials said.

The websites in this latest controversy look legitimate at first glance, with the words “Official Online Store” in large type and photos of players and excited fans.

But in the FAQs on the sites, some of the text is in broken English, with lines like: “How long will be the parcel arrived our country?” – or regarding returns: “If the product’s quality is no problem, we can’t to accept the return it.”

So how can fans protect themselves? The BBB offers this advice:

  • Use only reputable websites. If you’re unsure, go to your team’s official page to buy there or find out which stores carry official merchandise.
  • When buying sports memorabilia, ask for a certificate of authenticity and consider getting an independent appraisal. Check the complaint records of sellers.
  • And the best tip: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • - The ABC News Fixer

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