Spot the fakes: NBA, Cleveland BBB warn of counterfeit All-Star tickets and merchandise

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 8:21 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - If you’re still thinking about splurging to go to the big game or purchase memorabilia, the NBA, and our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad have a warning for you.

Tickets to the big game are expensive, and that gives scammers room to act.

Ericka Dilworth at the Cleveland-area Better Business Bureau said, “They are in high demand.”

The few tickets that are left are listed on the official site for thousands of dollars. So, it’s understandable why someone would try to find a better deal.

The BBB is worried however that scammers may be behind what looks like a deal.

“Man, if you buy a ticket and it doesn’t work when you get there, it all depends on how you’ve paid,” Dilworth said.

The only way to have a chance at getting your money back is if you paid by credit card, which isn’t likely the form of payment the scammer asked for.

“The exchange is more digital now. It just happens a little differently now than it used to happen,” Dilworth said.

The NBA cautions that counterfeiters target major sporting events, like NBA All-Star 2022, to prey on unsuspecting shoppers keen to support their favorite teams and players and bring home an authentic keepsake.

These counterfeiters not only take advantage of fans, but victimize legitimate, tax-paying retailers in the Cleveland area and beyond. At all NBA events, including NBA All-Star 2022, the NBA implements an extensive anti-counterfeiting program to protect fans looking to purchase official NBA products.

“As the NBA commemorates its 75th Anniversary and brings NBA All-Star back to Cleveland for the first time in 25 years, we’re already seeing high demand for merchandise locally and globally,” said Ayala Deutsch, NBA Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. “With this year’s events in Cleveland, a storied basketball city, we’re reinforcing our longstanding commitment to protecting consumers from counterfeiters, ensuring fans have the information they need to purchase genuine, quality NBA products and enjoy their NBA All-Star experience.”

To help basketball fans at NBA All-Star 2022 spot the differences between the real thing and the fakes, the NBA offers the following checklist:

  • Fans should be advised that only digital tickets will be issued to NBA All-Star events in Cleveland and tickets should be purchased via the NBA Events App and Beware of vendors offering counterfeit paper tickets for sale.
  • Look for the official NBA hologram sticker or holographic hangtag and a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the NBA licensee (e.g., Nike, Fanatics, New Era, Mitchell & Ness).
  • Shop at NBA-authorized retail locations at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Wolstein Center, NBA Crossover at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, and the Westin, Marriott, Renaissance, Intercontinental, and Hilton hotels in Downtown Cleveland rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, or other questionable sources.
  • Shop online at
  • Beware of ripped tags, irregular markings, or misspellings on apparel.

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with the NBA and our local law enforcement partners, are committed to protecting the local fans and visitors to Cleveland,” said James C. Harris, Acting Special Agent in Charge, HSI. “Often at major events, like NBA All-Star, we find fraudsters attempting to exploit unsuspecting patrons. We encourage consumers to only purchase merchandise from authorized retailers and remind them that if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.”

In Cleveland, the NBA will also be on the lookout for counterfeit activity and working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, who will be enforcing laws prohibiting the sale of unauthorized vending and counterfeit merchandise throughout the NBA All-Star 2022.

Since 1992, through its membership in the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos (CAPS), the NBA has been involved in the removal of more than 12.6 million total pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various pro sports leagues, teams, colleges and universities, valued at more than $545 million collectively.

Over the last nine years, the NBA, together with the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Collegiate Licensing Company, and collegiate institutions, have successfully pursued legal proceedings resulting in the shutdown of more than 21,000 domains selling counterfeit sports merchandise to unsuspecting fans.

According to a recent INTA/BASCAP study conducted by Frontier Economics, the estimated value of trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is between $710 billion and $970 billion globally per year and is directly responsible for the loss of more than two million jobs annually.

That study forecasts that counterfeit goods alone will displace up to $1.2 trillion of global sales of legitimate goods by 2022.

According to a 2020 report from the United States Department of Homeland Security Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans, law enforcement investigations have uncovered intricate links between the sale of counterfeit goods and transnational organized crime groups.

According to that report, criminal organizations use coercion and child labor to manufacture and sell counterfeit goods.

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