ICE Agents Seize 2,700 Pieces of Counterfeit MLB Merchandise

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized more than 2,700 items of counterfeit Major League Baseball merchandise worth $80,000 from Bay Area vendors, agency representatives said today.

The merchandise includes phony T-shirts, counterfeit baseball hats and beanies, tote bags and pennants, said agents with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations team.

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said agents seized the merchandise over the course of the past week from vendors in downtown San Francisco and around AT&T Park as vendors tried to cash in on the Giants’ World Series run.

The fake MLB merchandise is imported primarily from China and it’s usually pretty easy to spot, Kice said.

“We do encounter some very sophisticated and high quality counterfeits,” Kice said. “But in a lot of cases, you can look at the way it’s put together — the stitching, the logos — and tell that it’s not genuine.”

Kice said some items had names of prominent athletes misspelled or logos sewn on upside down.

“Those are pretty easy to spot,” she said.

Although most people see intellectual property theft as a victimless crime, Kice said that’s a false assumption.

The phony merchandise delivers shoddy and sometimes dangerous goods to unsuspecting buyers, she said. The proceeds often go to fund other criminal activities and Kice said the sales could rob Americans of good-paying jobs.

There have been no arrests so far, but Kice said the investigation is ongoing.

Erin Baldassari, Bay City News

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