(STMW) — While the Blackhawks were knocking out the Tampa Bay Lightning for their third Stanley Cup Final championship in six years, federal investigators were behind the scenes doing a similar number on counterfeiters trying to sell fake memorabilia to fans in both cities.
During the Stanley Cup Final and right though Thursday’s Blackhawks parade and rally, Homeland Security Investigations was seizing over $180,000 worth of counterfeit NHL gear and merchandise in Chicago and Tampa, according to a statement from the HSI, a branch of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The “Operation Team Player” initiative led to the seizure of 4,376 counterfeit items, including fake jerseys, hats, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs, worth an estimated $181,215 based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices.
The seizures were part of a “crackdown on intellectual property rights violators leading up to and during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, as well as during the Chicago Blackhawks victory parade and celebration,” the statement said.
Events such as the Stanley Cup Final are “prime targets for counterfeiters, many of whom travel the country with the sole intention of scamming innocent sports fans,” James Gibbons, acting special agent in Charge for HSI in Chicago, said in the statement.
The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition estimates businesses worldwide lose $600 billion to $700 billion annually from fake memorabilia.
“The NHL very much appreciates the efforts of HSI and local law enforcement to protect hockey fans from being victimized by counterfeiters and to ensure that legitimate businesses playing by the rules will not be harmed by these illicit activities,” Tom Prochnow, NHL spokesman, said in the statement.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)