Collectors and fans clamor for championship rings of their favorite collegiate and pro sports team, with some paying top dollar for the real thing. Unfortunately, third party retailers are selling counterfeit versions of these rings for top dollar, conning the consumer out of a lot of cash. Real championship rings are made of precious stones and yellow or white gold. Most counterfeit rings are made of cheap materials, fake gemstone, are of poor quality, and contain flaws. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati recently seized on shipment containing 90 fake Kansas championship rings bearing the registered trademarks of the National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association and Major League Baseball.

The parcel was intercepted on March 21 when a non-intrusive x-ray examination yielded inconclusive results and a physical exam was required. Inside officers found 40 2019 Kansas City Chief Super Bowl rings, 20 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Rings, 15 1985 Kansas City Royals rings, and 15 2022 Kansas Jayhawks championship rings. The interdicted rings were sent to an Import Specialist from the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center for evaluation. The specialist noticed the rings were poor quality, had inferior packaging, a low declared value, were inaccurately declared, and lacked security features. The merchandise was deemed inauthentic and was seized for bearing counterfeit trademarks. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price would have been $2.71 million had the rings been genuine.

“Purchasing counterfeit sports memorabilia defunds our sports organizations, and the money profited from selling fake merchandise such as championship rings, is used to damage the United States economy and fund criminal enterprises.” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director of Field Operations (DFO), Chicago Field Office. The DFO further added, “I am proud of the officers in Cincinnati, they work hard to protect our domestic businesses and stop illegal shipments.”

The shipment originated from Hong Kong and was destined to a residence in Atchison, Kansas. The shipment appeared to be a person-to-person transaction, which is a common tactic used by counterfeiters. This technique involves sending a shipment to one person. This person will then mail smaller addressed and prepackaged parcels concealed inside this larger shipment. This person then pays for shipping to the U.S. address, thus bypassing further scrutiny.

Consumers can take these simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:

* Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.

* When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller.

* Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.

* Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods offers criminals a complementary source of income and a way through which they can launder money. Monies received from the sale of counterfeit products can be channeled towards the further production of fake goods or other illicit activities. Additionally, counterfeiting is a hugely profitable business, with criminals relying on the continued high demand for cheap goods coupled with low production costs.

Over the past five years, e-commerce has grown exponentially as consumers are increasingly completing purchases online. These purchases are typically shipped through international mail and express courier services.