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Customs officers seize shipment of fake sports championship rings

By Ehren Wynder
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Rochester, N.Y., Port of Entry seized a shipment of fake NFL, NBA and MLB championship rings valued at about $9,000, authorities said. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Rochester, N.Y., Port of Entry seized a shipment of fake NFL, NBA and MLB championship rings valued at about $9,000, authorities said. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

May 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they have seized a large shipment of fake NFL, NBA and MLB championship rings.

CBP officers at the Rochester, N.Y., Port of Entry late last month discovered the counterfeit merchandise during a shipment inspection, according to a release.

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Inside the shipment were what appeared to be several Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Championship rings and mini championship trophies. After inspection, CBP officials determined the items to be inauthentic and seized them for bearing counterfeit trademarks.

The Super Bowl rings featured logos from the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and New England Patriots. The World Series rings featured the logo of the New York Yankees. And the NBA Championship rings featured logos from the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, according to CBP.

CBP estimated the total shipment would have been valued at around $9,000 dollars if the items were genuine.

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Counterfeit professional sports memorabilia is considered an intellectual property rights violation. CBP has the authority to seize and destroy merchandise if it infringes on a registered trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the United States Copyright Office.

"Our officers continue to play a critical role in protecting the consumer from counterfeit items," Rochester Port Director Ronald Menz said in a statement. "Counterfeiters scam consumers into buying low quality replicas online. Our officers diligently work to protect the American consumer by intercepting this illegitimate merchandise."

This was not the first, or even the biggest fake sports merchandise bust this year. CBP officers at the Cincinnati Port of Entry in March seized a shipment of fake Super Bowl rings that would have carried a $2.71 million retail value if they were authentic.

The shipment originated in Hong Kong and was bound for Atchison, Kan., before customs officers apprehended it.

CBP officers in May 2020 seized a shipment of 35 counterfeit Super Bowl rings that was on its way to Chicago from China. The rings were valued at about $350,000.

In many cases, foreign counterfeiters will deliver a large shipment to one person, who will then mail the merchandise out in smaller parcels to avoid scrutiny.

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A joint operation in February 2019 with the Department of Justice, the FBI, CBP and the NFL led to the arrest of 28 people, 21 of whom were convicted, and the seizure of tens of millions of of dollars worth of counterfeit NFL tickets and merchandise.

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