By: Aaron Diamant, WSBTV.com
Atlanta –Undercover agents are cracking down on counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise.
Federal agents told WSB-TV the raid should send a strong message to criminals looking to cash in.
“It’s Super Bowl week, and while it’s a major event for fans, it’s also a major event for criminals,” Bryan Cox, with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland, said. “There’s a lot of money coming into town, and criminal networks want some of that money.”
Within seconds, agents found what they were looking for inside a College Park discount mall.
Merchandise was being sold that was not officially licensed.
You can tell if the gear is authentic by the stitching, holograms and other markings. It’s also no secret that legitimate NFL merchandise is expensive.
While shopkeepers scattered, Diamant watched as agents pulled suspected fake gear and cut-rate hats and jerseys off the walls.
As an expert from the NFL confirmed the counterfeits, the cops catalogued the haul.
“Criminal organizations are looking to fund themselves. Counterfeiting is just one pathway that they use to fund that criminal organization,” Cox said. “So, when you funnel the profits up, they’re going to criminal groups who can use this for a variety of other crimes — drugs, guns, violence. You name it.”
Agents also said the raid wasn’t a one-off. They said they’ll be working with state and local partners all week with a clear message: They’re out looking for fakes, and if they find them, they’re going to take them.