OLDSMAR, Fla. — Tens of millions of dollars of counterfeit Super Bowl swag poured into Tampa Bay via Florida’s ports and airports, according to agents from Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.
Agents involved in Operation Team Player allowed ABC Action News cameras to record a weekend raid at the Oldsmar Flea Market.
Inside, federal, state and local law enforcement fanned out and confiscated thousands of what they identified as counterfeit items. They seized everything from fake jerseys to rings and other memorabilia.
Two separate raids the week before the big game netted 7,000 Super Bowl and other brand name counterfeits worth an estimated $50 million.
Homeland Security Special Agent Bruce Passmore says the task force is focused on the shippers and those who take delivery of the goods that often come from China.
“We look to identify the entire supply chain,” he said.
Oldsmar Flea Market manager Mic Goossen said they welcome law enforcement's oversight and work hard to make sure their vendors are legitimate.
“We didn't realize there was that much counterfeit merchandise being sold,” she said.
Goossen says every vendor must sign a form stating they will not sell fake goods, and vendors who are caught violating the policy are evicted.
Special Agent Passmore says he expects to make arrests related to the confiscations in the coming weeks. He says it’s important for consumers to understand much of the counterfeit profits goes to fund money laundering, drug cartels and other crimes.
“You may be thinking you are getting a good deal on a maybe a slightly less quality item when in fact you are supporting some of our most well-known, well-established world established terrorist organizations," said Agent Passmore.
Super Bowl fakes are flooding online from third-party sellers online. If the price seems too good, it's probably fake.
Remember, all authentic NFL merchandise has a difficult to duplicate hologram on the tag.