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Homeland Security Investigations cracks down on counterfeit goods ahead of Super Bowl

Homeland Security Investigations is cracking down on counterfeit goods before Super Bowl LVIII, a top HSI official told ABC News.

"We're looking at folks, criminal organizations who are taking advantage of large-scale sporting events," Jim Mancuso, head of the Homeland Security Investigations National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination (IPR) Center said. "And they're trying to make a quick buck and they're selling counterfeit merchandise."

He said the IPR Center works with brands, associations and academia to better crack down on counterfeit merchandise.

Homeland Security Investigations runs "Operation Team Player," which is focused specifically on fake sports merchandise.

PHOTO: James “Jim” Mancuso the Director of Homeland Security Investigations National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center speaks during an interview with ABC News on February 6, 2024. (ABC News)
PHOTO: James “Jim” Mancuso the Director of Homeland Security Investigations National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center speaks during an interview with ABC News on February 6, 2024. (ABC News)

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Over the past year, HSI has seized $28.1 million in counterfeit goods, according to the agency. That includes 94,000 pieces of counterfeit sports merchandise.

"The Super Bowl is a great opportunity for the IPR center and team player to really educate the consumers to say, listen, there are scams out there," Mancuso said. He doesn't want Americans to spend their hard earned money on "substandard, inferior products."

China is the number one exporter of fake goods, Mancuso said.

"The number one location for counterfeit merchandise, not just sporting equipment, but all types of merchandise, the number one location is China," he said. "Hong Kong is the number two. And that's where we're seeing these these items come in from."

Entering bank or credit card information into websites that sell fake goods could also expose consumers to fraud.

"So as a consumer, if I'm on a shady website, it's not an authentic website from a true brick and mortar store [or ] it's a known website that's reputable, then I'm taking my chances," he said. "If I'm giving my credit card details, I've now just exposed all that personal identifiable information."

The counterfeiting enterprise is a trillion-dollar business, Mancuso said.

"What that's doing is that's robbing American innovation, creativity and all the proprietary stuff that makes the United States great in terms of what we give the world," he said. "It's being ripped off, sold at low cost, inferior quality products, and sometimes they can pose an inherent health and safety risk to the American people."

Homeland Security Investigations cracks down on counterfeit goods ahead of Super Bowl originally appeared on abcnews.go.com