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With the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV in full swing, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and HSI San Francisco warned the public Friday to beware of purchasing counterfeit sports apparel and tickets to games and other events.

Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing typically sold during these events. Additionally, authorities have seen an increase in the sale of counterfeit tickets being sold to these events. Large sporting events such as the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV are prime targets for counterfeiters, many of whom travel the country or set up phony websites with the sole intention of scamming sports fans.

Ayala Deutsch, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for the NBA says:

“Not only is counterfeiting harmful to the local economy and local retailers, it has a negative effect on our fans. We know they want an authentic experience and official souvenirs to remember this time, so our goal is to ensure that they’re armed with tips and tools to recognize fraudulent tickets and products and reduce the risk of purchasing fakes.”

Homeland Security Investigations and partner agencies regularly team up with state and local law enforcement during significant sporting events.

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The International Trade Administration estimated in 2016 that counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy, annually, between $200 billion and $250 billion and 750,000 jobs.

Trafficking counterfeit merchandise/products which often have unknown ingredients or are constructed with substandard materials poses a significant public safety risk, not to mention it hurts legitimate U.S. businesses, and preys on unsuspecting fans who believe they are making legitimate purchases.

Although counterfeiters are increasingly more sophisticated, fans can keep several key factors in mind when making purchases to avoid being victimized:

  • Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
  • Buy tickets from authorized dealers
  • Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or 2-for-1 deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point.

Purchasing authorized merchandise guarantees the quality and life of that souvenir, while also providing a reputable source for concerns, returns, and exchanges.