KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Can you spot the counterfeit goods?
“Sometimes you can, 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 is flooding pop-ups and online stores.
As wardrobes get an update ahead of Super Bowl LVII, federal officials are also stepping up their enforcement.
Homeland Security Investigations is spearheading these efforts since so many counterfeit goods come from overseas, especially China.
So how can you avoid rip-offs? The main attraction of counterfeit equipment is the price. So when you look at $250 jerseys online and find one on some weird website for $30, you have to remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
But it’s that time of year for merchandise where it’s hard to say no.
“Every season, new, but every time we see something we want, we get it,” one person told the Union Station Fan Zone.
“We order stuff online, but most of the stuff we buy from retailers here in town,” said Jackie Smith, an Olathe Chiefs fan.
For John Jones, dressed in Chiefs clothing from hat to shoes, it’s a bit of a problem.
“Everything is authentic, 100%. I’m good,” Jones said.
He said his closet at home is full of Chiefs merchandise.
“My closet is full of Chiefs stuff, it’s ridiculous. My daughter said, ‘Dad, stop spending money on Chiefs.’ I said ‘Hey, I’m a ’72 kid.’ From the first stage to today,” Jones said.
It is the fandom motivation that counterfeit sellers try to profit from. That’s why the National Security Investigations are involved. In past operations, including past Chiefs Super Bowls, they have seized up to 3,500 pounds of overseas cargo.
“Counterfeit NFL jerseys fuel crime overseas — and we know it for sure,” said Taekuk Cho, special agent in charge of national security investigations in Kansas City.
“Essentially these organizations will do everything they can to make a quick buck. And often this is not just drug trafficking or human trafficking, but also trafficking in counterfeit goods, intellectual property,” Cho said.
“You will have spelling mistakes. You will have loose threading, bubbling of numbers. The Nike swooshes also face backwards instead of forwards. You should have holograms,” Cho said.
“You can tell from the label,” Jones said. “You can tell from the label if it’s fake. Just like in bags, they can tell. You have to look into it and you know it from the seams.
Jones said he’s willing to spend the money, even if the equipment is getting more expensive.
He himself has a background in sales, sharing his childhood pitch at Municipal Stadium.
“Ice cold Bud Light, right here. Ice cold Bud Light, right here. Or popcorn right here. Or popsicle pop right here. And you actually sold it to people. Well, 25 cents or 35 cents. But now, beer: $7-8,” he said, lowering his estimate.
Internal security investigations will effectively shut down websites that sell counterfeit goods. If you’d like to make a report, please call 866-347-2423 or visit this site.