Giants fans and Patriots fans are gearing up for Super Bowl XLVI, while Better Business Bureau is warning all football fanatics to be wary of counterfeit memorabilia, jerseys and game tickets.
Discerning between legitimate and illegitimate memorabilia websites can be difficult. More than 150 domain names were seized for engaging in "the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods," according to a November 2011 release by the U.S. Department of Justice. And earlier in 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—or I.C.E. — seized $3.56 million in fake merchandise from unauthorized sportswear sellers. Significant progress has been made to combat this issue, but it is estimated that there are thousands of similar websites and retailers still in operation.
"Fans who knowingly or unknowingly buy counterfeit football merchandise are essentially stealing from their favorite teams," says Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "Scammers hijack names and logos from teams and pocket the money from low-quality products."
Reports of fake tickets have skyrocketed as well. Thousands of game day tickets are listed on Craigslist and eBay, offering little protection from counterfeits. While buying in person seems safer, scammers can easily produce authentic-looking tickets.
To make it to the red zone, BBB suggests the following plays:
Never rush: Take time to research memorabilia and jersey retailers at bbb.org; if in doubt, purchase items directly from official stadium vendors and team or league websites.
Play up the middle: Choose reliable and verifiable ticket sellers and resellers. Find sites that can guarantee ticket authenticity. Keep in mind that last-minute tickets will be expensive.
Run a bootleg sweep: Examine the quality of potential purchases; if items look like knock-offs, walk away.
Intercept too-good-to-be-true options: If jersey prices seem much lower than those offered at official stores, consider that a red flag for counterfeits.
Don't get tackled by Super Bowl scams; bbb.org passes marketplace information to fans.