Authorities Issue Counterfeiting Warnings For Multiple Sports Teams
Now is a big time for sports. The World Series just wrapped up, the NFL season is getting down to crunch time, and the hockey and basketball seasons are just getting started. So, it makes sense for merchandisers to cash in on the fans' excitement. But, as we've seen plenty of times before, not all merchandisers do it legally. Within the last two days alone, authorities have given warnings to three teams' fan bases—the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos—to avoid bogus stuff.
Let's start on the East Coast and work West, starting with Pittsburgh. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Western Pennsylvania warned Steelers fans about websites that aren't authorized to sell official NFL merchandise. The organization singled out two specific sites, steelersgearshop.com and officialsteelersnflauthentic.com. The latter might as well be IswearthisfakemerchandiseislegitIpromise.com.
"When websites use trusted logos, like NFL sports teams and BBB to appear more legitimate, it makes it difficult for consumers to recognize whether they are on a reputable or bogus website," Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania, said to the Pittsburgh Business Times. "To check if a company is truly BBB accredited, you should be redirected to the company's BBB Business Profile on bbb.org after clicking on its Accredited Business Seal. Consumers can also check directly on bbb.org to confirm a company's accreditation and BBB rating."
In Chicago, while Cubs fans are still celebrating the enormous and historic World Series win, the FBI said to look out for fakes.
"Counterfeiters are taking this opportunity to distribute and flood the market with tons of counterfeit and fake memorabilia," Garrett Croon, an FBI spokesperson, told ABC 7. "You're going to see a lot of fake autographs, fake memorabilia, it could be advertised as a game-worn jersey worn by Anthony Rizzo, then you get it and it's completely off," Croon said.
"If the T-shirt or printing looks sharp, you've got something that's somewhat closer to legal as opposed to fuzzy printing or bad colors or something that doesn't look right," Bradley Rosen, owner of Sports World Chicago, told ABC 7.
Finally, out West, two Denver men are facing felony charges after operating a business selling counterfeit merchandise at a flea market outside of the Denver Broncos' stadium for more than eight years, the Denver Post reported.
We've said it before: For consumers, check the tags for holograms and necessary licensing symbols. For distributors and merchandisers, make sure you get the legal permission to use logos. Two of the men in Denver face felony charges of conspiracy to commit theft, and are looking at three years of probation and thousands of dollars in fines.