Super Bowl Counterfeiters Need a Better Game Plan


By Katie Denis (Originally posted on Free Enterprise)

Are you ready for the big game on Sunday? Friends invited? Buffalo wings ordered? Kapernick jersey clean?

Wait—Kapernick? It’s spelled Kaepernick. That jersey you scored for half the retail price doesn’t look like such a great deal now.

Today, the NFL held its Counterfeit Super Bowl Merchandise and Tickets Press Conference. The annual conference is a reminder that whether you cheer for the Ravens, the 49ers, or the commercials, no one is immune to the risks of counterfeit goods.

Leave the Fakes on the Football Field

So you found a street vendor selling a $100 jersey for $30? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Last year, more than 42,000 Super Bowl-related memorabilia items were seized. While an unlicensed t-shirt might not seem dangerous, particularly when compared to fake medicines or car seats, Department of Homeland Security’s John Schmidt told NBC’s Jeff Rossen, “The proceeds from the sale of these items support criminal enterprises like gangs, drug organizations, underground networks.”

While the average consumer may not see the connection of counterfeit goods and gangs, they may see a change in their bottom line. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that supplying credit card information to buy a counterfeit good may be a way to steal your banking information.

While there are ways to protect yourself from buying fakes, the counterfeiters are increasingly sophisticated and it’s an easy mistake to make. A site alleging to be the official Ravens team store——was flagged by the BBB after receiving a complaint that a consumer had his card charged $59.99, but never received the item. Looking into the complaint, the BBB found the site has no physical address and falsely used the bureau’s logo.

Holding a Ticket to Nowhere

Fortune’s Larry Olmsted saw counterfeiting firsthand at last year’s big game: “In Indy I saw too many people who forked over hundreds or thousands of dollars for pristine looking and beautifully realistic counterfeit tickets … It was heart breaking to see fans being stopped and turned away at the gate after spending so much.”

The NFL expects that there will be even more fake tickets at this year’s Super Bowl. “The number of counterfeit and stolen tickets increases every year, with a couple of exceptions,” Anastasia Danias, NFL vice president of legal affairs, told’s A.J. Perez notes, “The NFL has multiple authentication measures built into the tickets, including bar codes, a security label (holographic image), heat-activated ink and embedded electronic security; there are no print-at-home tickets for the Super Bowl.”

Think you’ve found a deal? Make sure you’re using common sense. The cheapest seat as of this afternoon was $1,500. The Better Business Bureau has more tips to make sure your ticket actually leads to a seat:

·         Choose reliable sellers and resellers like Ticketmaster and StubHub that guarantee ticket authenticity.

·         Avoid internet sites that are not secure, insist on a cash payment, or do not have a telephone number.

·         Pay with a credit card or third party payment processor like PayPal that offer additional protection if your ticket isn’t the genuine article.

A Better Game Plan

For tips on how to protect yourself, visit the Global Intellectual Property Center’s tip sheet. And for more information on the impact of counterfeit goods on jobs, innovation, safety, and access, check out

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