TAMPA (WFLA) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations is inspecting incoming packaging for a wide variety of fake gear that is being shipped to Tampa this week ahead of Super Bowl LV.
“We see a lot of our counterfeit goods coming in from overseas, particularly from China and Hong Kong and it’s coming in through our mail and parcel system,” said Brian Weinhaus with Homeland Security Investigations.
That gear comes in all shapes and sizes from jerseys and t-shirts to bogus Super Bowl rings and even phony Lombardi Trophies, the Department of Homeland Security says the counterfeits may look good from a distance, but a close inspection will show flaws.
“It’s the details, you’ve got to look at the fine details and people need to be their own advocate, they need to look at the stitching, they need to look at the quality of the fabric, the colors, the tags and just take a closer look and you will be able to see the difference between real and fakes,” said Weinhaus.
People buying the fake gear may think they are getting a good deal and the only loser is the NFL and major companies like Nike who lose out on licensing money, but Weinhaus says legitimate small business owners lose out as well.
“The mom and pop shops on the street. You can imagine how these fake products take money out of the hands of these legitimate businesses,” Weinhaus said.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with U.S. Border Patrol and Customs to seize the counterfeit material before it’s sold.
Homeland Security says in most cases the profits from the sales are being sent out of the country.
“More often than not, that’s in a foreign country and you are supporting a foreign corrupt organization, criminal organizations, and even terrorist organizations, so the money you are going to look to save here you are really sending to a criminal organization and potentially you are supporting terrorism overseas,” said Homeland Security Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Sibley.