The NBA playoffs ended just a couple of weeks ago with a victory for the Warriors, but the drama wasn’t over yet. Investigators just seized nearly $500,000 in Warriors counterfeit merchandise. The investigation was headed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security unit.
They have worked with the NBA, Adidas, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination center, and more to recover the illegal merchandise. They have reportedly seized more than 14,000 items that illegally sport the Warriors’ logo, including t-shirts, hoodies, banners, caps, mugs, and more.
Most of the seizures took place at roadside booths and pop-up tables in Hayward, Reno, Oakland, Concord, and San Francisco. However, there have been no arrests made as of yet, since there is no evidence connecting the merchandisers to the counterfeiters. Investigators are hoping to break down the entire counterfeiting ring, not just the pawns.
“We want to go after the entire chain and the resulting funds,” reported Tatum King, the special agent heading up the investigation.
Any time they have caught vendors selling the false merchandise during the NBA playoffs, it has been people without criminal records, indicating that those selling the t-shirts know nothing about the counterfeiting ring, who happened to stumble upon a “great,” albeit suspicious, deal on Warriors merchandise.
Events such as the NBA playoffs delivers a much higher profit to counterfeiters, making this opportunity the perfect time to fund their operations. In fact, their margins are so high on this type of counterfeited merchandise that they make more money than they would off of fake pharmaceuticals.
This may seem like a victimless crime, since Warriors merchandise is already a billion-dollar industry. However, according to the group supervisor, most of the time, profits made from counterfeited goods are used to launder money from illegal drugs and firearms, which is one of the biggest threats to national security today. The investigators report that it is extremely important to stop this illegal activity before anyone else gets hurt.
If caught, the counterfeiters will be punished with up to a $2 million dollar fine and 10 years in prison. This estimate is based off of the other counterfeiting cases that have been processed in the past. King reports that nearly $700 billion in counterfeit goods are sold every year. It is reported that approximately 70 percent of all seized counterfeit goods comes from China. It’s a more common crime than most of the world realizes, and it can lead to even worse results if not handled in a timely manner.
The NBA playoffs may have ended, but the investigation that has, so far, seized nearly $500,000 in counterfeit Warriors merchandise continues.
[Image via SFGate.com]