Skip to main content

Customs Agents Block Nearly $300,000 in Knockoff Sports Merch

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Indianapolis and Louisville this week seized 178 counterfeit championship rings and 171 counterfeit professional sports jerseys that, if genuine would have had a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) value of $288,350.

The first shipments arrived on the night of July 11, with CBP officers in Indianapolis discovering 108 counterfeit jerseys from several National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Football League (NFL) teams. These counterfeits were all destined for a residence in Bakersfield, Calif.

Meanwhile, CBP officers in Louisville were stopping 63 counterfeit MLB jersey from reaching their destination, a residence in University Park, Ill. The following night, CBP officers in Louisville discovered a shipment heading to West Chapel, Fla., that were found to contain 178 counterfeit championship rings of the MLB’s Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, the NBA’s Boston Celtics and the University of Georgia.

All the shipments were arriving from various locations in China, CBP noted. Officers deemed they were all counterfeit based on various observations, such as improper description of goods, value declared, packaging, poor quality materials, sub-par printing and demonstrated practices such as the shipping of a commercial quantity of items to a residential address.

“Shipments like these prey on the many sports fans across the nation who may be duped into paying high prices for nongenuine products,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, director of field operations-Chicago Field Office. “I’m extremely proud of these officers’ determination in stopping illicit shipments and our commitment to protecting the American economy.”

Related Stories

CBP said the rapid growth of e-commerce enables consumers to search for and easily purchase millions of products through online vendors, but this easy access gives counterfeit and pirated goods more ways to enter the U.S. economy. Counterfeit commodities fund smugglers and members of organized crime, while consumers often believe they are buying a genuine product but soon realize the item is substandard.

“Counterfeiters only care about making a profit,” said Thomas Mahn, port director-Louisville. “They do not care about the effect their fake product has on you, your family or the economy. Our officers are well-trained to find seizures like these to continue our mission of protecting the American public.”

In fiscal year 2021, CBP seized 27,107 shipments with intellectual property rights (IPR) related violations.  If the seized products were genuine, the total MSRP of the items would have been valued at over $3.3 billion. This represents a 152 percent increase compared to 2020, when goods valued at $1.31 billion MSRP were seized for IPR violations.

A return to pre-pandemic trading levels and an overall increase in the number of CBP seizures of counterfeit products account for the significant rise in MSRP. Additionally, adversaries are seeking to exploit an increase in volume, threatening U.S. economic interests with risks in the form of IPR infringement, as well as safety risks from poor quality and untested consumer products. In 2021, 89 percent of IPR seizures were found in express consignment and international mail shipments.

Last year, wearing apparel and accessories topped the list for the number of seizures with 30,681, representing 30 percent of all IPR seizures, CBP said. Sold online and in stores, counterfeit goods hurt the U.S. economy, cost Americans their jobs, threaten consumer health and safety and fund criminal activity.