There's a chance that All-Star merchandise people in the Kansas City metro bought is fake.
Law enforcement made a huge bust of counterfeit Major League Baseball merchandise crossing both sides of the state line.
Federal agents seized more than $540,000, according to Homeland Security. They said the investigation was broader than some, focusing not just on scam artists in and around the stadium, but also on the internet and in stores across the metro.
The All-Star Game brought big business to stores like Kansas Sampler, which is the official off-site retailer for the Royals.
"We did extremely well. It was pretty exciting," John Taylor, the pro-buyer for Kansas Sampler, said.
But the influx of baseball fans also meant a field day for counterfeiters. A snapshot of what the Department of Homeland Security seized in the two weeks leading up to the All-Star Game shows boxes upon boxes of jerseys and caps, as well as T-shirts and other souvenirs.
Investigators scored busts in Platte Woods, Liberty, Shawnee, Merriam and Lenexa, including a Lenexa warehouse that supplied nearly all the fake ball caps in the area, as well as fake tickets.
"Every item is going to have at least one hologram," Taylor said as he showed examples on some Kansas Sampler merchandise.
He said counterfeiters can do a pretty good job at duplicating labels, but they haven't yet figured out holograms.
"You're going to have normally a hologram up on the drop tag up top, and it's going to say "authentic merchandise." And then normally you're going to have a second one," Taylor said as he showed a hologram also on the item.
Some of the fakes seized were almost comical as a result of rush printing, like a Royals jersey with four spelling errors on one tag alone – the word "FOR" is spelled "FCR," "LEAGUE" is spelled "LEAGDE," "BASEBALL" is spelled "BASEDALL," and "MERCHANDISE" is spelled "MERCHRNOISE".
Maybe some people are just as happy to have a fake at a bargain price, but Taylor said it's illegal for a reason.
"When somebody does a fake knock-off, it's taking money away from the league, the players, like Billy Butler, his jersey. He gets a cut from the Players' Association, so it's basically stealing is what the counterfeiters are doing," he said.
"Selling counterfeit goods is stealing," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent in charge of HSI Kansas City. "Counterfeit goods steal US jobs, create inferior and sometimes dangerous products, and support criminal organizations."
One other argument is that fakes, made mostly in China or Russia, take American jobs. KCTV5's Betsy Webster checked into whether the official merchandise is American-made. Turns out most of the shirts themselves are made overseas, but the embroidery and printing all takes place in the United States.
There have not been any arrests or criminal prosecution so far in this case, just seizures and a forced closure of the Lenexa warehouse.
The spokesman for Homeland Security said he expects there will eventually be federal charges coming out from the result of the raids.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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