Counterfeit Goods Warning for Super Bowl 50

On Monday February 1st I was interviewed on San Francisco’s KCBS Radio about the counterfeiting of Super Bowl merchandise. This is an edited transcript of the interview.

KCBS: Thousands of people are descending on the Bay Area for Super Bowl 50. Everyone wants to take home some souvenirs: merchandise, memorabilia, tickets and the like are in high demand and counterfeiters know that. They’re out in force to provide you with every trinket you could possibly want except, well, except real sanctioned stuff.

For more on the amount of counterfeit goods Super Bowl brings in and tips on what to look out for we turn to KCBS Ring Central News Line to talk with Akino Chikada, senior marketing product marketing manager for brand protection firm MarkMonitor.

Thanks for the time today. So have the busts begun of these counterfeiters?

Akino Chikada: Of course. The Super Bowl is one of the most popular sporting events as we know and that means there’s a lot of an opportunity for counterfeiters to take action. Before last year’s Super Bowl Federal officials seized more than nineteen and a half million dollars-worth of counterfeit goods, so it is a major problem.

Now law enforcement and organizations like yours talk about unsuspecting customers getting ripped off, but do you really think they’re all unsuspecting? Some people like a bargain and really don’t care if they’re sanctioned.

That’s definitely true. We recently published a report and it said about twenty percent of consumers know that they’re purchasing counterfeit goods. So there is a small percentage of those are purchasing counterfeit knowingly. However there’s a very high percentage of people who don’t realize that they’re purchasing a counterfeit good, whether online or in person.

So, isn’t the tip-off the price?

The price is definitely a good tell sign, if it’s too good to be true that can only mean there’s a high chance that it’s a counterfeit good. But there are other things that people should look at. If it’s a physical item then people should definitely look at the quality: the colors, the weight of the jersey, the fabric quality. Also the N.F.L. tags and stickers on the items. If it’s N.F.L. jerseys in particular then look at the hologram.

However if people are shopping online there are other things to be aware of. One of the tricks people use is cybersquatting. Consumers should always look at the name and address bar and check if everything looks legitimate and there are no typos. But as you said, price is definitely one of the major tell signs.

And what is cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting is where a person is basically squatting on your domain name.

OK. So you might see a website like ‘N.F.L.’ and it might say ‘always_N.F.L.’ or something like that?

Right. Or it might say ‘’ or something that’s very similar. A lot of people don’t double check the U.R.L. that they’re going to. That kind of re-direction of traffic is definitely one of the scams.

 And who is hurt by counterfeit goods if you’re not paying fifty bucks for a jersey?

Actually there are multiple people who are hurt as part of the process. Obviously the person purchasing the counterfeit good, especially if they didn’t know that it was a counterfeit item. It could be a double whammy for them if they’re purchasing online. Because not only are they purchasing a counterfeit good but the fraudster or the criminal has access to your bank account which can lead to fraudulent activities. In addition to that it obviously harms the business vendor – intellectual property theft a serious crime. Not only do businesses lose revenue, but it also hurts the brand image and, in addition, American jobs are threatened by this. A lot of the time these counterfeit goods are manufactured in Asia, China predominantly. And sometimes those working conditions are terrible. So there are lots of victims.

Thank you very much for sharing the information.