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Sports merchandise scams target fans before Super Bowl

Thousands of counterfeit shirts and jerseys flooding the market.
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Feb 06, 2023

The Super Bowl is just days away, and March Madness is right around the corner and no matter if your team is in the big game or not, fans are always up for some new gear.

But before you buy, whether it's gear worn in the Super Bowl, items signed by your favorite players, or just a replica NFL or NBA jersey, realize that these days everything from jerseys to autographs could be fake.

Greg Koch, owner of Koch's Sporting Goods, is ready for the big game with everything from Eagles sweatshirts to Chiefs jerseys. But he says to beware of cheaper merchandise you find online.

"You're gonna get a neon orange printing on it, you might get a misspelled name," he said.

And in many cases, the stitching is poor, and sizes are nowhere near what is advertised.

But he says a fake can be tough to spot, especially online, because counterfeiters will even use the NFL logo and Nike swoosh.

"You need to buy it from a reputable retailer," he said.

The online retailer Fanatics.com, an officially licensed seller, has more warning signs of counterfeit items.

Better Business Bureau flooded by complaints

Melanie McGovern of the Better Business Bureau says when buying sports gear online, the most obvious sign of a scam is the price.

"If it's way too good to be true, it's probably a fake," she said.

McGovern says the most common complaints to the BBB are:

  • Items arriving late or not at all.
  • Poor fit (especially with replica jerseys).
  • Poor quality overall, whether fabric, stitching, or the way letters and numbers are placed.

She says when purchasing sought-after items like player helmets, photos or equipment, check for a "certificate of authenticity."

Also, ask detailed questions about whether a shirt or jersey was worn or used.

"Any reputable seller will absolutely answer all of those questions for you," she said.

Koch says real replica jerseys, authorized by the NFL, NBA, NHL, or Major League Baseball, should cost more than $100.

"Most of the time, the price will let you know," he said.

So avoid a cheap knockoff that will look bad and could fall apart in the wash.

That way you don't waste your money.

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