US Customs seized $39 million worth of fake sports-related items ahead of Super Bowl 50

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Days before the first player stepped onto the field for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, US Homeland Security-led efforts had already seized 450,000 counterfeit sports items, according to a release issued earlier this week.

The search efforts, headed by Homeland Security Investigations officials, had seized counterfeit goods worth an estimated $39 million.

US Customs and Border Protection officials released an image of some seized goods, including rings, on its Instagram page:

Agents from Homeland Security, CBP, local law-enforcement officials, and business representatives "seized fake jerseys, hats, cell-phone accessories and thousands of other bogus items prepared to be sold to unsuspecting consumers" by retail outlets and other vendors, according to the release.

"Criminals selling counterfeit goods often use big events like the Super Bowl to trick consumers into buying high-priced, low-quality fakes. Not only do these criminal networks rip-off consumers, they have real consequences on the American economy," said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center.

Operation Team Player, which began after last year's Super Bowl, has also led to 41 arrests and 35 convictions.

"Make no bones about it, this is smuggling," Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center Director Bruce Foucart told ABC News.

Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos starts at 6:30 p.m. EST on CBS.

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