Voice of the consumer: Avs fans, watch out for counterfeit merch

11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.
11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.(KKTV)
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 7:35 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - If you’re like me, you’re rushing to the store to buy some Colorado Avalanche gear now that they have won the Stanley Cup. But sports fans, beware: Experts tell me they always see an increase in counterfeit merchandise being sold following big sporting events like this one.

Last year, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) seized more than 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items worth around $97.8 million during an operation to crackdown on the illegal import of counterfeit sports apparel and merchandise, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told me the scams will come in all forms, so it’s important to keep your guard up.

“Scammers are going to come after you in ways when you’re not expecting it,” Weiser said. “You’ll get an email, you’ll get a text. You’ll see a social media post and it will be ‘Get Avs gear cheap, buy now.’ Unfortunately, counterfeit merchandise and scams are rampant, so if you go through these unofficial channels maybe thinking you’re getting a deal, chances are, you’re getting scammed.

“A big challenge for all of us is sometimes we get our hopes up, we’re impulsive, and we want to make an impulsive purchase — don’t do it,” he added. “You’re going to see social media posts, you may see emails that come to you and they’re suggesting they can get you something you want quickly and maybe more cheaply than ordinarily you would have to pay.

“Be nervous. Be vigilant. The way in which they’ll get you is getting you to act quickly and make decisions that maybe you’d make in haste and later regret.”

ICE shared tips that sports fans should keep in mind when purchasing merchandise right now:

• Only shop at trustworthy retail stores, rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions and more.

• Crooks often use legitimate product photos on their websites, even though they are selling fraudulent products. Don’t buy expensive items from third-party websites. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

• Look out for ripped tags, poor quality, bad stitching and irregular markings on clothing. Make sure you check your statements, keep a record of any purchases, and report any discrepancies.

“Online commerce is a real hazard because if you go to, for example, Facebook Marketplace or even some Amazon sellers that aren’t necessarily Amazon itself, you might get something that’s not legitimate,” Weiser said. “It could be stolen merchandise, for example. So be careful online. Make sure you know who you’re dealing with.

“When you shop in person, if you don’t go to legitimate, established stores, you could be in an area where you’re also being taken advantage of not being sold what you think you’re getting. Because if you don’t go to an established vendor, you come back a week later, they’re not there anymore; you’re not going to get satisfaction.

“The problem with scammers is there’s no recourse, it’s hard to find them,” the attorney general added. “If you report them to us at stopfraudcolorado.gov, we’ll do our best, but often they’re literally fly-by-night-operators. Once you’ve given up your money, they’re gone.”

You can report scams and fraud to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at 800-222-4444. Go, Avs!

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

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