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Feds Conduct Raids on Local Sports Memorabilia Stores

REGION (WGGB) – Federal officials executed search warrants Monday on several area sports memorabilia stores as part of an ongoing effort against counterfeit sports merchandise.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Ross Feinstein says that Monday, Homeland Security Investigations executed five search warrants on several local stores including “Sports Zone” and “Collectibles and Cards” locations at the Holyoke Mall, Eastfield Mall, Hampshire Mall, and Berkshire Mall.

“All [the warrants] are in support of an ongoing investigation regarding intellectual property theft,” says Feinstein.

Feinstein says that there was counterfeit merchandise found at the western Massachusetts locations, but what kind of merchandise and from which store is not known.

Feinstein adds, “The HSI directorate is a critical asset in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mission, responsible for investigating a wide range of domestic and international activities arising from the illegal movement of people and goods into, within and out of the United States.

According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition the copys cost U.S. businesses close to $500 billion each year.

“So you know it’s buyer beware, but at the same tine it’s hurting all of us,” said David Trehey.

Trehey owns Sportstuff in Springfield.  He’s happy to see the feds addressing the issue locally.

“You don’t hear about it as much in the greater Springfield area, but there is a share of counterfeit products going on here in the city as well,” Trehey.

He says shoppers should pay attention to tags and explains most brands use different color and barcodes for different sizes.  Trehey says customers can also use their smartphones to scan the barcodes to see if they register.  Another thing to pay attention to is the price.

“They know they are short term a lot of the people who are counterfeit whether they are store front or a set up table at a vacant lot.  It’s like your gonna get a good deal because they wanna get rid of it as soon as they can,” said Trehey.

Monday’s warrants were part of the ongoing effort called “Operation Fake Sweep.”

ABC40 was at the February press conference in Indianapolis when officials from ICE, Customs, and the NFL announced the latest seizures from the operation, which began back in October 2011.

During the sweep that occurred in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVI, between bogus Super Bowl merchandise and other counterfeit items from the MLB, NHL, and NBA, I.C.E. confiscated over 73,000 items worth over $6.6 million from stores and vendors in around Indianapolis.

To report counterfeit items visit: www.IPRCenter.gov.

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