IPR Center seizes over $28M in counterfeit sports merchandise ahead of Super Bowl LVIII

LAS VEGAS – Today, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) announced the seizure of approximately 94,000 counterfeit sports-related items during the past year, worth an estimated $28.1 million during a joint press conference with the National Football League (NFL).

The seizures are part of Operation Team Player, an ongoing annual initiative spearheaded by the IPR Center and in coordination with all major U.S. sports leagues to prevent counterfeit sports related merchandise, apparel and tickets from reaching fans ahead of high-profile sporting events.

“Thanks to our partnerships with the NFL and major sporting leagues, Operation Team Player is the biggest anti-counterfeiting initiative within the federal government,” said James Mancuso, IPR Center director. “This team effort is critical to our goal of ensuring consumers are equipped with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves from being scammed by counterfeiters who take advantage of fan enthusiasm and increased demand for sports merchandise during these major sporting events.”

“With building excitement for the first Super Bowl game played in Las Vegas, the NFL is deeply appreciative of our partnership with the IPR Center, HSI, CBP and Las Vegas area law enforcement,” said Dolores DiBella, NFL Senior Vice President for Legal Affairs. “Their dedication and tireless efforts through Operation Team Player have resulted in successful year-round strategies that help protect NFL fans from counterfeit scams.”

“Make no mistake, if you peddle counterfeit merchandise in Nevada, we will go after you,” said William H. Scott, Jr. Chief of Investigations, Nevada Office of the Attorney General.

Since 2008, the IPR Center has led coordinated efforts with public, private, and international partners to identify online marketplaces, e-commerce platforms, markets and other retail outlets engaged in the sale of counterfeit goods.

Operation Team Player

Operation Team Player - True Fans Keep it Real

Operation Team Player is a partnership between the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Custom and Border Protection (CBP) and major sports leagues to prevent the illegal import and sale of fake sports merchandise.

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Investigative efforts have shown large sporting events across the globe are target opportunities for criminals, with the intent of scamming sports fans to make illicit profits. Whether it’s a fan losing their hard-earned money on fake merchandise they were led to believe was authentic or small businesses losing vital sales, intellectual property theft is a real crime with real victims and real consequences.

“Enforcing IPR takes a whole-team approach. CBP collaborates with private organizations and federal agencies and foreign governments to protect America’s innovation and competitiveness,” said Troy Miller, CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner.

To avoid becoming a victim of counterfeiters, the IPR Center and the NFL recommend sports fans keep in mind the following tips when making purchases:

  • Only shop at trusted retail locations.

  • Be cautious when shopping online. If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Criminals often use legitimate product photos on their websites despite selling a fraudulent product.

  • Consumers should use caution before buying expensive items from unfamiliar online sellers. Purchasing merchandise from authorized dealers that are reputable sources for quality merchandise helps ensure that your transaction will be safe, and that concerns will be handled responsibly.

  • Look out for poor quality, sloppy stitching, missing security labels, or irregular markings on apparel.

  • Check your online bank statements. Keep a record of purchases and copies of confirmation pages and compare them to bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, consumers should report it immediately.

  • Event tickets should only be purchased from established and trusted sources, such as the NFL Ticket Exchange by Ticketmaster, On Location, other ticket retail sites in the NFL Ticket Network, or other reputable ticket retailers. Remember that there are no hard stock, paper tickets for entry into this year’s Super Bowl game. All tickets for Super Bowl LVIII will be digital and require the use of specific apps. Screenshots of tickets and/or purported PDF tickets are not valid for entry and will not get you into Super Bowl LVIII.