FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WRTV/CNN) – These are not the boxes or bags you want to see coming out of any store.
Federal agents with Homeland Security investigations seized fake NFL merchandise from the Off the Wall store in the Glenbrook Square Mall in Fort Wayne.
The surprise visit turned up items that authorities say should not have been on the shelves.
Special Agent in Charge Gary Hartwig says, “”We can’t be everywhere, at every given moment in time, but again it’s consumer beware. We are out there. We are watching those who are importing, those who are distributing counterfeit merchandise. You may get by today, you may get by with it tomorrow, but we’re going to find you.”
Hartwig is the Special Agent in Charge who oversaw the operation called ‘Fake Sweep’. “The impact is significant, actually counterfeits steals US jobs, very simply,” adds Hartwig.
We got a new look at the extent of the problem as federal authorities showed us a new batch of counterfeits turning up around the nation just in time to cash in on the Super Bowl.
In Indianapolis, the city’s contract with the NFL only allows for authorized stores, not street vendors, to sell the real deal.
Indiana-based Lids, which employs 6,000 people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, counts on the government to stop the sale of the knockoffs to protect their millsion of dollars in investment and jobs.
“I think to buy the properly licensed products is the right thing to do for everyone. It maintains the business the way it should be maintained,” says John DeWaal, Marketing Director at Lids.
Back in Fort Wayne, 400 pieces of NFL related merchandise was removed. A message to all vendors that fake fabrics found will become the property of Uncle Same.
At last year’s Super Bowl, counterfeit merchandise valued at a total of nearly $4 million was seized by federal authorities.