MIAMI (NEXSTAR) — The Department of Homeland Security is warning people to watch out for counterfeit Super Bowl swag. That message comes after word federal agents seized roughly $120 million in counterfeit sports merchandise since last year’s Super Bowl.
The merchandise in question ranges from hats and jerseys to rings and game tickets. So how do you spot the difference?
We showed images of popular items to Mike Petkov and his son. We asked them to identify what’s the real deal and what isn’t.
“Yeah, that one. I think it’s real. It’s hard to tell because they all have the crown the sticker emblems on them,” Petkov said.
What he didn’t know: it was a trick question. All the merchandise we showed him was counterfeit. Quite frankly, it’s difficult to spot the difference.
In the video above, the Department of Homeland Security’s Lamar Jackson walked us through a few ways to weed out the fake stuff. With his trained eye, he spotted the wrong emblem on items and showed us some excess paper on others.
“A lot of the counterfeits — if you look at the stitching – it bleeds over from letter to letter,” Jackson said. “Obviously not a precise job on the stitching.”
Jackson said the easiest way to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise is to stay away from the street peddlers. Yes, you could save a few bucks. However, what you buy may not be the real deal.
“The easy answer is you go to an authentic store,” Jackson added.
At Thursday’s media event. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security announced it had taken in 176,000 pieces of fake gear over the last 12 months. It’s a record haul.
“When fans spend their hard-earned money on NFL tickets and merchandise, they deserve the real deal,” said Major Eric Garcia, Miami-Dade County Police Department.