BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Are stores in your neighborhood selling knock-off sports merchandise and trying to pass it off as the real deal?
Each year roughly $200 billion is spent on sports merchandise. In Buffalo, we're fully stocked when it comes to our favorite teams, but what you see may not be always be what you get.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul said, "American companies and individuals lose upwards of $250 billion a year to groups and individuals who would engage in trafficking in counterfeit goods and services."
At a gas station on Colvin Boulevard, there was two entire racks of Sabres jerseys. Jerseys similar to those sold at the Sabres store for $179 dollars. The gas station's jerseys are way cheaper. The store was selling the jerseys for $75, or two for $100.
News 4 purchased a jersey and then took it the Sabres store. Sabres Spokesman Mike Gilbert didn't even give News 4's Joe Arena a chance to get it out of the bag before he said, "Well I can tell already, it's fake."
Arena and Gilbert put the jersey right next to an authentic jersey, to compare the two.
Gilbert explained, "The logo here is obviously much different than the authentic one over here. The colors are different the blue , the gray, and the gold. It's close, it has some of the piping up here and on that top there and the logo's but again when you look at it it's just not the official jersey."
The Sabres have to report the jersey to the NHL now. Gilbert says the real losers are the fans
Gilbert said, "The weight of the jersey, you can just see it's different this is a different type of fabric than the real thing."
"We just don't want to see them buying stuff that's bootlegged and counterfeit," Gilbert explained.
Hochul also says his office doesn't want to see anyone get duped, even if a fake jersey is all they can afford.
Hochul said, "Legitimate stores are paying taxes on the sales, where at some of these fly by night operations are not. In the case of the jersey it sounds some what innoucuous, but unfortunately again who knows where the proceeds of this sale are going."
In fact, in some cases Hochul says money has been directly linked to organized crime.
Hochul said, "There's even been periodic reporting that certain terrorist groups may be trying to get involved in trafficking counterfeit merchandise."
News 4 returned to the store on Colvin Boulevard, with the phony jersey and a baseball cap we also bought there, New Era confirmed it too was a fake.
News 4's Joe Arena said the the manager, "Bought this hat and this jersey a couple of weeks ago and found out that there fake. They say "authentic" on the tag, but I was told that they are not the real deal."
The manager said, "We buy them from a guy. He comes here with a truck, I don't know where he gets them from. He says we have this overstock, do you want to buy them? I say ‘okay deal.'"
The manager says now that he knows they're fake he'll stop selling the jerseys. We went back two days later and found the jerseys were no longer on display.
The sentence for someone who knowingly admits to selling counterfeit merchandise could be up to 20 years in prison and or a $5 million fine.
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