U.S. Customs officers at Los Angeles International Airport recently confiscated 28 counterfeit National Basketball Association championship rings with a retail value of $560,000, the agency said Sept. 11.
The officers discovered the jewelry while examining an air cargo package that arrived from China. Import specialists at the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence in Atlanta provided unspecified intelligence based on its industry-specific knowledge of goods and shipping patterns, but Customs and Border Protection would not disclose why the shipment was targeted. The designs and lettering violated trademarks of several NBA teams and the league.
There are 10 Centers of Excellence around the country, each designed to bring uniformity to trade processing by centralizing industry knowledge in one office.
The rings were found inside a wooden box, with the apparent intent to be sold as a collection.
Legitimate NBA championship ring prices range between $10,000 and $40,000 and in some cases over $200,000, according to CBP. The quantity and estimated MSRP value of counterfeit items seized are clear indications of the profits that are involved in the illegal trade of counterfeit NBA championship rings.
The seizure is another example of transnational criminals using express parcel as their mode of choice because of the greater ability to avoid detection, especially with the tsunami of e-commerce shipments in recent years. Air express facilities accounted for 39% of the $1.4 billion in fake goods confiscated by CBP in fiscal year 2018.
It’s not known if the package was shipped with an integrated express carrier or another airline, but CBP works closely with integrators to catch shipments because they have sophisticated systems to track each shipment and who tendered it.