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Police: With Super Bowl nearing, consumers should be on alert for counterfeit goods

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This Tyrann Mathieu jersey on display Friday at Phoenix Police Department headquarters may look authentic at first glance and probably carried a price tag that seemed like a steal.

A closer look reveals red flags, including the lack of an NFL seal certifying authenticity and the lower quality of stitching.

With the Super Bowl approaching, the Phoenix and Glendale police departments, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the NFL, are spreading the word to those purchasing logo apparel: Buyer beware.

Products sold by certain websites and on the street are often counterfeit, they say.

“One of the main messages we want to get across is that counterfeiting is not a victimless crime,” Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, said at a news conference. “The sale of counterfeit goods undermines one of the foundations of the U.S. economy, which is innovation.”

A lot of these copies are so close to the real thing that it can sometimes be difficult for the average consumer to tell the difference at a glance.

Anthony Russo, supervisory special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, said the first thing to look for when shopping for Super Bowl and NFL items is the league’s official seal. listen

“It could be cups or pens, but they will all have some sort of an NFL seal on them,” he said.

The seal will also bear its own unique serial number, so if a seller has any items that hold the same serial number it is likely fake. listen

Russo also said the general quality of the stitching on authentic jerseys and T-shirts is much higher than that of counterfeit merchandise.

Another giveaway is often the price. Authentic NFL jerseys can cost anywhere from $70-$120 from authorized sellers. Allen noted that counterfeiters usually sell their goods for much less.

“Always remember that if the deal you’re getting seems too good to be true, it really is too good to be true,” Allen said. “Either you’re buying something that’s counterfeit or your financial information is at risk or both.”

Consumers also should beware of counterfeit sports tickets sold online, including those for the Super Bowl. These fake tickets can be very convincing, with counterfeiters basing their fakes off of real printouts from reputable online ticket sellers like Ticketmaster.

Sgt. David Lake with Phoenix Police Department sees these kind of fake tickets regularly and has some advice to check their authenticity.

“One of the secrets you can do is you can take a picture of the barcode and run it through StubHub, Ticketmaster or some of the other ticket outlets that are professional resellers and they’ll tell you if it’s counterfeit,” he said.