HOUSTON - Crooks are cashing in on the Super Bowl by selling counterfeit items.
In many cases, it’s difficult to tell the real deal from a phony and “Operation Team Player” is going after them.
“Throughout the year we seized more than 260 thousand counterfeit sports-related items worth approximately 20 million dollars,” said Mark Dawson with Homeland Security Investigations.
Investigators tweeted real-time this week from raids of Houston-area shops and flea markets. One photo shows one of the suspects who got “sacked” by the multi-agency operation.
Officials with the federal Intellectual Property Rights Center say shoddy stitching is just one giveaway in counterfeit clothing.
“That’s because the criminal organizations putting this stuff together, they want to rush it out ASAP,” said Matthew Bourk with the IPR Center. “They’re not taking the time to make something high quality, not taking the time to make something professional.”
Official NFL items have holograms on the labels or tags but so do many counterfeit items. Move them around to make sure they’re not just stickers.
In many cases, investigators admit, it takes a trained eye to spot a phony.