As Blackhawks playoff fever continues to escalate, the National Hockey League wants fans to be on the lookout for fake pride.
During the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL and police seized more than 11,000 pieces of counterfeit NHL merchandise valued at more than $2.5 million.
Since 1992, more than 10.6 million pieces of counterfeit merchandise have been seized, according to the NHL, with a retail value of more than $405.5 million.
“Counterfeiters tend to tap into the energy of high-profile events like the Stanley Cup Playoffs and take advantage of innocent fans,” Tom Prochnow, group vice president of legal and business affairs at NHL Enterprises, said in a statement. “Many consumers are unaware of the tell-tale signs that are associated with counterfeits."
The NHL specifically urges fans to be on the lookout for bootleggers targeting eager fans by selling unauthorized and poorly produced knock-off merchandise.
Here's what to look for, according to the NHL:
- Make sure the hologram sticker or holographic hangtag is on the product along with a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the NHL licensee that has been authorized by the NHL to produce “genuine” or “official” merchandise
- Shop at legitimate retailers instead of buying street vendors, flea markets, overseas websites or other questionable sources
- Beware of ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
"Just as in sports, the best defense is a good offense," Prochnow said. "With the right game plan, fans can protect themselves from being victimized.”