MIAMI (NEXSTAR) — The Department of Homeland Security is warning people to watch out for counterfeit Super Bowl swag.
Federal agents have seized roughly $120 million in counterfeit sports merchandise since last year’s Super Bowl. The counterfeit merchandise ranges from hats and jerseys to rings and game tickets.
So how do you spot the difference?
Mike Petkov and his son were shown images of popular items and asked to identify the real deal and the fakes.
“Yeah, that one. I think it’s real. It’s hard to tell because they all have the crown, the sticker emblems on them,” Petkov said.
What he didn’t know was that all the merchandise he was shown was counterfeit, demonstrating how difficult it is to spot the difference.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Lamar Jackson identified a few ways to weed out the fake stuff. He spotted the wrong emblem on items and pointed out some excess paper on others.
“A lot of the counterfeits — if you look at the stitching – it bleeds over from letter to letter,” Jackson said. “Obviously, not a precise job on the stitching.”
Jackson said the easiest way to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise is to stay away from street peddlers. Though buying from them could save a few bucks, what you buy may not be the real thing.
“The easy answer is you go to an authentic store,” Jackson added.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security announced Thursday that it had taken in 176,000 pieces of fake gear over the last 12 months. It’s a record haul.
“When fans spend their hard-earned money on NFL tickets and merchandise, they deserve the real deal,” said Major Eric Garcia, Miami-Dade County Police Department.