As reported earlier by WebProNews, the Department of Justice seized several websites claiming to stream the Super Bowl live illegally. Now news has broken that "Operation Fake Sweep" has seized over 4.8 million dollars in fake merchandise along with the several sites that were seized.
Fake jersey, hats, t-shirts and other NFL associated apparel were among items seized, according to one source. Teams comprised of the HSI, CBP and USPIS along with the Indianapolis Metro Police and Indiana State Police.
Special agents operated in teams with the NFL and Indiana law enforcement, probing the the nation to identify shipments sent into the U.S. as well as black market vendors selling fake goods. With only 3 days left before game day, the authorities have seized 42,692 items, all faux game related items. Along with other items gathered, the sum of the worth of the fakes goods adds up to a staggering 4.8 million dollars.
During OFS, an additional 22,570 items of counterfeit merch and clothing representing other sports leagues were discovered including MLB, NBA, and NHL related apparel. With the discovery of those goods, the counterfeit item tally rose to 65,262 boasting a net worth of 6.4 million dollars.
ICE Director John Morton stated:
"While most people are focusing on whether the Patriots or Giants will win on Sunday, we at ICE have our sights on a different type of victory: defeating the international counterfeiting rings that illegally profit off of this event, the NFL, its players and sports fans. In sports, players must abide by rules of the game, and in life, individuals must follow the laws of the land. Our message is simple: abiding by intellectual property rights laws is not optional; it's the law."
NFL Vice President for Legal Affairs Anastasia Danias was quoted saying:
"The NFL is committed to protecting fans and local businesses from being victimized by counterfeiters who are looking to profit illegally off of the public's enthusiasm for the NFL. We are grateful for Homeland Security Investigations' tireless efforts in combating intellectual property theft and are pleased to be working along with them and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on this important issue."
In addition to the insane number of merchandise seized, the HSI and other special agents seized 307 websites. 16 of which illegally streamed live sporting events over the internet including NFL games. 291 of the sites were illegally selling and shipping counterfeit merchandise.
As the Super Bowl approaches, OFS will continue through the weekend monitoring events and venues around the Super Bowl as well as the nation. The operation is projected to to find several thousand more counterfeit items in its continuing efforts.