(The Center Square) – It was difficult for some St. Louis football fans to watch the NFL team that left town for Los Angeles win the Super Bowl this year.
But when Missouri federal authorities discovered 422 Super Bowl Rings being shipped from China to a residence in Jerseyville, Ill., they suspected an illegal procedure. CBP didn’t specify which Super Bowl the rings commemorated.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the St. Louis operations hub made the discovery. If the rings were genuine, the total manufacturer’s suggested retail price would have been $300,000. The CBP stated the seizure is an example of how illegal actors and criminal organizations take advantage of sports fans by selling fake merchandise to generate profits to fund other unlawful activities.
A CBP import specialist determined the rings weren’t authentic when an image of the Lombardi Trophy, a trademark of NFL Properties, was found on the rings. The image was recorded with the CBP border enforcement through a digital database.
“Counterfeit jewelry continues to flood the e-commerce market, and these rings were focused on a select group of sports collectors and their fans,” LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director of Field Operations-Chicago, said in a statement. “Our officers are well-trained to find counterfeit merchandise like these in support of CBP’s mission of protecting the American public and the American economy.”
The growth of e-commerce is allowing consumers to discover and easily purchase millions of products through online vendors. However, the CBP warns consumers to be watchful of counterfeit and pirated goods. The CBP estimates consumers spend more than $100 billion annually on goods that infringe on intellectual property rights.
“This is just another example of the work our officers do to protect consumers and the U.S. economy,” said Steven Bansbach, a public affairs officer with the CPB. “As consumers increasingly purchase from online or third-party vendors, our officers are at the frontline to guard against defrauders expecting to make money selling fake merchandise.”
Jewelry was the third most popular counterfeited item last year, according to CBP. Authorities seized more than 375,000 items of counterfeited jewelry worth $550 million if they were authentic. CBP seized more than 24.7 million counterfeit products that would have been worth approximately $3 billion if they were legitimate.