CHICAGO— Sports memorabilia is a lucrative business. Fans and collectors pay top dollar for memorabilia to add to their collection or pass down to future fans. However, this business does have its phony dealers that peddle their counterfeit merchandise cashing in at the expense of collectors and fans.
On September 13, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Chicago port of entry seized a shipment from China that contained 86 championship rings. Chicago’s Trade Enforcement Team and CBP’s trade experts at the Centers of Excellence and Expertise determined the rings were counterfeit due to the fact that all of the goods were constructed of poor quality and lacked security features. The shipment was destined for a residence in Florissant, Missouri.
“Shipments like these prey on the many sports fans across the nation who may be scammed into paying high prices for fake memorabilia,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations, Chicago. “I’m extremely proud of these officers’ determination in stopping illicit shipments, and our commitment to protecting the American economy.”
The parcel contained fake championship rings from the Chicago Bulls (24), New York Yankees (34), St. Louis Cardinals (22), and the Philadelphia Eagles (6). Had the rings been authentic, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price would have been $2.38 million.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement is a Priority Trade Issue. Importation of counterfeit merchandise can cause significant revenue loss, damage the U.S. economy, and threaten the health and safety of the American people. In partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP seized 27,599 shipments with IPR violations in fiscal year 2019. If the seized products were genuine, the total manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the items would have been valued at over $1.5 billion.
Over the past five years, e-commerce has grown exponentially as consumers are increasingly completing purchases online. These purchases are typically shipped through international mail and express courier services.
Sold in underground outlets and on third party e-commerce websites, counterfeit commodities fund smugglers and members of organized crime. Consumers often believe they are buying a genuine product but soon realize the item is substandard and potentially dangerous.
“Counterfeiters easily hide in plain sight on online marketplaces. They dupe shoppers into buying low quality and dangerous counterfeits online,” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director – Chicago. “CBP employees work tirelessly to protect our economy and consumers every day.”
CBP Trade protects the intellectual property rights of American businesses through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights enforcement program, safeguarding them from unfair competition and use for malicious intent while upholding American innovation and ingenuity. Suspected violations can be reported to CBP here.
If you are aware of, or suspect, a company or individual of infringing upon a trademark or copyright, please report the suspected violation to e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.