US Customs organisations have warned basketball fans about counterfeits during this year’s National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other US enforcement groups made the warning with basketball’s biggest annual event currently underway.
The NBA Finals is a best-of-seven game series to decide the league champion, which takes place between the Eastern and Western Division champions at the end of each season.
The 2019 NBA Finals are between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors, with the scores level at one game all.
Jerseys, caps, and t-shirts are among the most counterfeited basketball merchandise sold during the finals, with counterfeit tickets also being allegedly sold. ICE said that counterfeits “travel the country or set up phoney websites with the sole intention of scamming sports fans”.
Ayala Deutsch, executive vice president and deputy general counsel for the NBA emphasised that counterfeiting is bad for fans as well as business. She said: “Not only is counterfeiting harmful to the local economy and local retailers, it has a negative effect on our fans.”
“We know they want an authentic experience and official souvenirs to remember this time, so our goal is to ensure that they’re armed with tips and tools to recognize fraudulent tickets and products and reduce the risk of purchasing fakes.”
Steve Francis, IPR Center director warned that organised crime gangs will target the event. He explained: "The enthusiasm around these high-profile sports events is meant to be a time for fans to celebrate."
"Instead, organised criminals are preying on that excitement, ripping consumers off with counterfeit merchandise and stealing from the American brand holders who play by the rules."
ICE urged consumers to buy from authorised vendors and reminded that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.