IPR Center Cautions Fans in Boston and Dallas to Be Aware of Fake Merchandise and Tickets During 2024 NBA Finals

WASHINGTON – As the 2024 NBA Finals tip off this week, fans from all over are heading to Boston and Dallas to support teams and purchase authentic gear and memorabilia. With high demand for merchandise during this year’s matchup, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, joins the NBA in cautioning fans to be on the lookout for counterfeiters attempting to sell unauthorized, knock-off products and tickets.

“Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime,” said Acting IPR Center Director Michael Ball. “Counterfeiters take advantage of enthusiastic fans who believe they are spending their hard-earned money on genuine NBA merchandise, but instead end up with substandard, poor-quality items. In addition, these consumers can unnecessarily fall prey to identity theft and other financial schemes. This is why we work with our partners to disrupt counterfeiting operations and urge consumers to only shop at legitimate retailers on and offline.”

Federal authorities crack down on the illegal importation and sale of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment products through Operation Team Player, a year-round effort spearheaded by the IPR Center in conjunction with major sports leagues.

The NBA has a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting program, including the official NBA hologram that is affixed to all authentic NBA products, to protect fans looking to purchase genuine NBA merchandise. Counterfeiters target major events, such as the NBA Finals, where fans are eager to take home memorable keepsakes.

“Fans deserve authentic mementos that last when celebrating and commemorating their favorite team in the NBA Finals,” said Ayala Deutsch, NBA Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. “We strive to protect fans by implementing our extensive anti-counterfeiting program, while also supplying them with the information allowing them to reduce the risk of purchasing fraudulent and inferior products.”

To avoid being victimized by counterfeiters:

  • Shop at NBA-authorized retail locations, such as TD Garden, American Airlines Center, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lids, and NBAStore.com, rather than street vendors, flea markets or other questionable sources.
  • Look for the official NBA hologram sticker or holographic hangtag and a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the NBA licensee (e.g., Nike, Fanatics, New Era, Mitchell & Ness).
  • Check for ripped tags, irregular markings, or misspellings on apparel.
  • Beware of vendors offering counterfeit paper tickets for sale. Only digital tickets will be issued to the 2024 NBA Finals in Boston and Dallas.

Throughout this year’s NBA Finals, HSI is joining the NBA in working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who will be enforcing laws prohibiting the sale of counterfeit NBA merchandise.

Last year, IPR Center partners seized more than 94,000 counterfeit sports-related items, worth an estimated $28.1 million (MSRP), through a collaborative public-private sector operation targeting international shipments of counterfeit merchandise into the United States.

The estimated value of trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is between $710-$970 billion globally per year and is responsible for the loss of more than two million jobs annually, according to a recent INTA/BASCAP study conducted by Frontier Economics. Additionally, a 2020 report from the United States Department of Homeland Security Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans indicates that law enforcement investigations have uncovered intricate links between the sale of counterfeit goods and transnational organized crime groups – and that criminal organizations use coerced and child labor to manufacture and sell counterfeit goods.