With the popularity of sports jerseys growing dramatically over the past decade, so have the number of fake or counterfeit jerseys being offered as authentic. Unfortunately, counterfeit jerseys are big business. It is estimated that tens of millions of dollars are lost each year to counterfeiters. Legitimate sales are lost, producer's royalties are unpaid, and the sports fans get inferior quality merchandise - everybody loses!
Many scam artists set up shop and peddle their fake merchandise at sporting events and temporary locations. The sales pitch usually starts with a bargain price. This is usually the hook that is used to lure the prospective buyer into a high-pressure sales pitch.
The vendor may tell you that the reason for the bargain price is that they received a great deal on overstocked merchandise, or they were lucky enough to buy out the stock of a going-out-of-business retailer. And of course, this all comes with a "guarantee" that the sports jersey is the real thing. Don't buy it!
Most likely these sports jerseys are knock-offs (unauthorized copies) shipped in from overseas. These fakes usually come with poor quality materials and inferior manufacturing processes. Bad stitching, faded colors, off-sizes, and all-around cheap appearance are common characteristics of the counterfeit jersey.
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These same unscrupulous vendors have gone high tech by selling their fake merchandise on the internet. If you want to try your hand at buying that favorite sports jersey at one of the online auctions - think again! It is estimated that up to 95% of the Mitchell Ness throwback jerseys sold on eBay are counterfeits.
Law enforcement agencies are starting to police these fake sports jerseys and the vendors that sell them. The counterfeit jerseys are being confiscated and the vendors arrested. Selling or manufacturing counterfeit jerseys is a very serious crime. Penalties for a first offense are a fine of up to $2 million and 10 years in prison. A second offense virtually doubles these penalties.
Despite these efforts, there is still a huge black market for the counterfeit jerseys. The policing agencies are just not staffed up to stop the large inflow of these fake jerseys coming in from overseas. So, your best advice is - Buyer Beware!
Follow these 6 tips and you can be assured that your next purchase will be the "real deal" - an authorized, high-quality official sports jersey:
Be suspicious of prices too good to be true - they usually are.
Don't buy your jersey from a street vendor - authorized dealers rarely market authentic sport jerseys in stadium parking lots or on street corners.
Look at the jersey carefully. Fakes usually have poor stitching and faded (or wrong) team colors.
Believe it or not, check the spelling of the name of the team or player. Fakes often have misspellings. Think about it - a name like R-o-e-t-h-l-i-s-b-e-r-g-e-r just isn't that easy to get right.