Counterfeit sports merchandising is a criminal industry that nets billions a year worldwide. This year, there will likely be even more, with the world’s attention on the London Olympics. British authorities have already made hundreds of arrests for attempting to move phony souvenirs. And they are warning tourists coming to see the games to be careful about what they purchase.
Counterfeiting is stealing
Much like bootlegging movies and music, the sale of counterfeit merchandise is stealing. It takes advantage of the goodwill built by others, and takes sales based on that goodwill away from them.
Gilbert Trill is an assistant special agent in charge of a Homeland Security Investigations unit in Kansas City. Recently, he and his team cracked down on a counterfeit Major League Baseball merchandising ring in Kansas City. He said:
“Selling counterfeit goods is stealing. Counterfeit goods steal U.S. jobs, create inferior and sometimes dangerous products, and support criminal organizations.”
Tip of the iceberg
And the same holds true in England. On June 8, ABC reported the Port of London seizure of thousands of pounds of phony merchandise by British authorities. Included in the seizure were 7,000 fake Olympic tote bags, 500 cigarette lighters and 400 vests.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Bill Bilan, chairman of the Trading Standards Institute’s Olympic strategy group, told ABC News:
“We’re really busy and getting busier.”
Counterfeit merchandise is generally of inferior quality, and may or may not cost less than the better-made legitimate items. But even more importantly, according to Interpol, child labor is often employed in the making of the shoddy knock-off merchandise. And the profits made from counterfeit merchandise may support criminal and terrorist organizations.
In recent years, with improved technologies, it has become harder and harder to detect the real merchandise from the phony. However, any legitimate Olympics souvenir will have a holographic tag that rotates. Also, outside of Olympic Park, there is only one place where legitimate souvenirs are sold. That is at a temporary structure on Rotten Row in London’s Hyde park.
Daily Finances offered some tips to avoid ending up buying counterfeit merchandise that may well be seized by custom on your way home anyway. According to the personal finance site, look for shoddy craftsmanship, poor stitching, uneven colors and misspelled names. Also, never buy merchandise sold anywhere but at the legitimate venues mentioned above.
Also, if the price seems too low to be real… you know the rest of the sentence.