Feds: Fake merchandise can fund terrorism

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 20:24:50-05

Sales from fake NFL merchandise can fund terrorist activities, according to federal agents at the Super Bowl.

Updating information provided on Sunday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized $39 million in "Operation Team Player" between the day after the Super Bowl last year and this week.

Earlier in the week Denver7 reported that the amount was $19.5 million, but that was clarified on Thursday to be the amount from the day after the Super Bowl in 2014 until last Super Bowl.

"Locally, even just this past week, (we made) an additional 49 seizures of over 12,000 items with a market sales of price of almost $470,000," said ICE director Sarah Saldana.

She also revealed that the sales of fake merchandise can fund the most serious criminal activity.

"Terrorists are not beyond, just about any activity, in order to raise money," said Saldana.

"One of the Charlie Hebdo attackers, we can probably show was selling counterfeit luxury goods on the streets of Paris," said Bruce Foucart, the director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Center for Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of ICE. "Purchasing weapons (and) cache, made with the profits of selling counterfeit goods."

Since the last Super Bowl, ICE reports 41 arrests and 35 convictions for selling counterfeit items.

"There's very high profit by making and selling this stuff and lower risk," said Foucart. "Just like a narcotics trafficking case, you've got to work your way up. Sometimes you'll get the lowest person, ask him to cooperate, maybe roll up to the people that are smuggling the stuff in."
The NFL also revealed the security features to look for on a legit Super Bowl ticket. One feature included the NFL shield hologram with San Francisco cityscape background. The other was like a t-shirt that changes colors when touched.

"Thermochromic ink is used on the graphic on the lower part of the ticket back," said NFL counsel Dolores DiBella. "The Super Bowl 50 logo will fade when heat is applied and will reappear when heat source is removed."