In the past month authorities in Pittsburgh scanned incoming packages for counterfeit goods and intercepted shipments from overseas of almost 800 fake items. The counterfeits included NHL and National Football League jerseys, hats, T-shirts and other souvenirs worth an estimated $100,000, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said.
Pittsburgh is hosting the Winter Classic game between the Penguins and Capitals on Saturday, New Year's Day. The teams will play a rare outdoor game on an ice rink set up on the field of a professional football stadium, Heinz Field.
The game is expected to draw some 68,000 fans. Already some 38,000 official Winter Classic jerseys have been sold, according to the NHL.
"With the Winter Classic about to be played here, we anticipated that scammers selling counterfeit jerseys would step up their efforts to defraud area residents, as we also step up our efforts to conduct these interdictions," said Robin Dalgleish, inspector in charge of the Pittsburgh division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
In the 2009 budget year, U.S. Customs agents made nearly 15,000 seizures of counterfeit goods valued at almost $261 million. About 80 percent of counterfeit goods come from China, according to U.S. estimates.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Bill Trott)