Football fans swept up in World Cup fever are being warned by councils about the risk of inadvertently buying counterfeit football memorabilia.
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, said local authorities have recently undertaken investigations to tackle the sale of thousands of pounds worth of fake goods, such as counterfeit signed football shirts.
Councils are warning football fans about the risks posed by fraudsters trying to cash in on people looking to celebrate the Three Lions’ early victories in Russia. Recent action by councils includes:
- More than £240,000 worth of fake football tee shirts were stopped entering the country by Trading Standards and were seized at East Midlands Airport, preventing thousands of sales from taking place before the World Cup. Since April, trading standard officers at Leicestershire City Council have helped to uncover 12,000 football kits over 27 incidents. Trading standard officers are working with Border Force at airports and mail centres to combat the future sales of counterfeit items.
- An investigation led by Newport City Council uncovered thousands of pounds worth of fake football shirts and banned shirts online.A couple were running two fake eBay accounts which were selling counterfeit football tee shirts with fake logos. Trading standard officers carried out test purchases for West Ham t-shirts which were confirmed as fraudulent. They also discovered that the couple had traded for three and a half years by using the online eBay accounts, and through their fraudulent business.
- Trading Standards Officers from Dorset County Council recently uncovered £1 million pounds worth of football memorabilia, including a football shirt falsely claiming to be signed by Wayne Rooney. Whilst the items of memorabilia themselves were not fake, the signatures on them were. The owner of the business was found guilty of fraud and money laundering, and sentenced to nearly six years in prison. The fraudulent business had sold fake items to more than 4,500 customers worldwide.
The LGA said shoppers should check for obvious signs of forgery, for example by checking the copyright on the back. For memorabilia, if possible, they should check what the real signature looks like and buyers can also compare the price of the item with similar items on sale.
If buying online, people are also advised to do their homework on the seller, for example by checking reviews left on websites.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board said:
“Councils work extremely hard to try to prevent scams in our communities. Online fraud is now the biggest type of fraud, with thousands of people reporting scams each month, resulting in millions of pounds being conned from people across the country.
“Scammers are cunning and opportunistic so the World Cup fever gripping the nation provides a way for them to callously try to exploit people’s enthusiasm for all things football.
“People should always do their research when buying football memorabilia and replica kits. Check the reviews of online sellers, and bear in mind that if something is really cheap, it’s likely to be fake.”