The Super Bowl, the much-hyped championship American pro football game, will be broadcast this Sunday night to an estimated 200 million people. Any major sporting event from the Australian Open to the World Cup brings out scammers hoping to cash in on the excitement. The most popular ways to separate you from your money are by peddling knock-off team jerseys, counterfeit memorabilia, and fake game tickets.
This past year, Homeland Security officials and officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted a national sweep of stores, flea markets and street vendors looking for counterfeit goods. Operation Fake Sweep collected $4.8 million worth of counterfeit jerseys, ball caps, and T-shirts. Ahead of this weekend’s Super Bowl, authorities said they seized nearly 42,000 phony Super Bowl sportswear items and merchandise worth $5 million. Fake jerseys can be bought for about $80 each. But according to nflshop.com, authentic jerseys cost between $150 and $300.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns about buying counterfeit team merchandise and tickets online. They have found fake websites that appear to sell merchandise but are fronts for collecting credit card numbers and personal information which could lead to identity theft or drained bank accounts. The best way to ensure that you get official sports gear is to buy directly from the team or league websites, or from official vendors at the stadium.
The BBB also warns that buying tickets online can be a rip-off. Thousands of Super Bowl tickets are currently listed on craigslist, but the site offers no guarantees of any kind and does not require identification of its listers. Buying in person isn’t always an improvement, since scammers can fake tickets.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is warning consumers about the possibility of Super Bowl tour package scams – specifically, scams that appear to promise game tickets, but fail to produce. DOT cautions travelers that if a game ticket is not specifically mentioned in advertisements or other solicitation material or listed as a tour feature, the ticket is probably not included. Fans should carefully review travel packages advertised online and make sure tickets and accommodations are fully guaranteed.
In general, avoid scams by being skeptical of:
- Offers that sound “too good to be true”
- Pushy sales tactics
- Poor quality of merchandise
- Offers that require wire transfer of funds
A good way to gauge the trustworthiness of any website is to take a look at the avast! WebRep rating. The rating icon in located beside the address bar in your browser. Click on it to see the overall rating and to add your own rating.