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In a join effort called Operation Red Zone, the NFL and the government seized a record $13.6 million in counterfeit football merchandise this past year.
Operation Red Zone has been cracking down on fake merchandise that includes jerseys, hats and, most recently, Super Bowl memorabilia, ESPN reported. This includes a bust back in September in Warwick, R.I. where 226 boxes containing 4,016 counterfeit jerseys were seized.
160,000 Super Bowl items have been discovered over the past few days. The operation will continue this week in New Orleans, L.A. at the location of the Super Bowl, as well as around the nation.
“The Super Bowl is one of the nation’s most exciting events. Organized criminals are preying on that excitement, ripping consumers off with counterfeit merchandise and stealing from the American businesses who have worked hard to build a trusted brand,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton.
According to Claims Journal, law enforcement officials have seized 313 websites selling counterfeit merchandise. The websites are now in government custody, and visitors of the websites will find a seizure band that informs them of copyright laws.
“The sale of counterfeit jerseys and other sports items undermines the legitimate economy, takes jobs away from Americans and fuels crime overseas,” said Morton.
The counterfeit material is shipped for free from Asia and can sell for as little as $20 compared to an official Nike NFL jersey that is marked at $135. Costumers of the knockoff merchandise can have their order within eight to 10 days.