KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Could you spot fake merchandise?
“Sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t,” Kansas City Chiefs fan John Jones said Wednesday.
It might be time to ask yourself that question, especially as counterfeit Kansas City Chiefs gear floods pop-ups and online shops.
As wardrobes get an update ahead of Super Bowl LVII, federal officials are also ramping-up their enforcement.
Homeland Security Investigations leads those efforts since so much fake merchandise comes from overseas, specifically China.
So how can you avoid the rip-offs? The main pull of the counterfeit gear is the price point. So when you’re looking at $250 jerseys online and you spot one on a weird website for $30, you have to remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
But it is that time of year for merchandise when it’s hard to say no.
“Every season, new but whenever we see something we want, we get it,” one person at the Union Station Fan Zone said.
“We do order stuff online, but the majority of the stuff we buy from the dealers here in town,” Jackie Smith, a Chiefs fan from Olathe, said.
For John Jones, decked out in Chiefs gear from his hat down to shoes, it’s a bit of a problem.
“Everything is authentic, 100%. I’m good to go,” Jones said.
He said his closet at home is filled with Chiefs merchandise.
“My closet is so much Chiefs stuff, it’s ridiculous. My daughter said, ‘Daddy, stop spending stuff on Chiefs.’ I said ‘Hey, I’m a ’72 baby.’ From the first stadium to now,” Jones said.
It’s the motivation of fandoms that counterfeit sellers seek to profit from. That’s why Homeland Security Investigations is involved. During past operations, including past Chiefs Super Bowls, they’ve seized as much as 3,500 pounds of goods coming from overseas.
“Counterfeit NFL jerseys fuel crime overseas as well — and we know that for a fact,” said Taekuk Cho, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Kansas City.
“Essentially these organizations will do anything possible to make a quick buck. And oftentimes that goes into not just drug trafficking or human trafficking — but trafficking in counterfeit goods, intellectual property,” Cho said.
“You will have misspellings. You will have loose threading, bubbling of numbers. Even the Nike swooshes are facing backwards instead of forwards. You’re supposed to have holograms,” Cho said.
“You can tell by the label,” Jones said. “You can tell by the label if it’s fake. Just like in purses, they can tell. You’ve got to look inside, and you can tell by the stitching.”
Jones said he’s willing to spend the money — even if gear is getting more expensive.
He has a sales background himself, sharing his childhood pitch from back at Municipal Stadium.
“Ice cold Bud Light, right here. Ice cold Bud Light, right here. Or popcorn right here. Or ice cold pop right here. And you actually sold it to the people. Back then, 25 cent or 35 cent. But now, beer: $7-8,” he said, lowballing the estimate.
Homeland Security Investigations will actually shut down websites selling fake merchandise. If you would like to make a report, call 866-347-2423 or visit this site.