Phony Eagles T-shirts flood the market. Here's how to spot the scams

Super Bowl Parade Plans
But is it authentic Eagles merchandise? A parade honoring the Eagles Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots is scheduled for Thursday.

Want a legitimate Eagles T-shirt or sweatshirt from Macy’s, Mitchell & Ness, or the Philly Team Store in Suburban Station? That’ll cost you between $40 and $60.

Of that, the Eagles and the NFL split a licensing fee of about 8 percent to 12 percent an item, experts estimate.

On the street, during Thursday’s parade? You’ll probably pay half that price — in cash, or perhaps Venmo.

Most street merchandise will likely be counterfeit, such as fake T-shirts recently printed in someone’s warehouse, says M. Kelly Tillery, partner in intellectual property at Pepper Hamilton law firm in Philadelphia. But “most people know the stuff on the street are fakes,” Tillery added.

While street merchandise at least is easy to touch and feel, and most consumers know they’re counterfeit, online is utterly a situation of buyer beware. Eagles merchandise is nearly impossible to authenticate on the web, other than on NFL.com’s shopping site. Super Bowl LII Eagles rings? Just $24.99 on eBay.

Phonies flood the market around the time of major national sporting events. Around Super Bowl game day in Minneapolis, customs agents on Feb. 1  seized more than $15 million worth of counterfeit sports- and entertainment-related items, the agency said.

Eagles fans can avoid getting scammed online, according to Akino Chikada, portfolio marketing director for MarkMonitor, a division of Clarivate Analytics.

  • Take a closer look at the URL. One of the most discreet types of fraudulent activities criminals use online is a tactic called typo-squatting, a practice that involves taking a brand’s name within a web address and inserting slight misspellings to trick customers into thinking they are on a reputable site.
  • Be careful with bargains. Counterfeiters take advantage of bargain hunters to steer traffic to their sites, using such terms as “cheap” or “discount.” And just because a site populated to the top of your search results doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legitimate.
  • Too good to be true prices. Counterfeiters are getting smart about pricing recently and not discounting their wares as heavily as before, but deep discounts — especially on unknown e-commerce sites — are a tip-off that consumers should do a lot more checking before buying. “They might be sloppy about even including returns on their site,” said Chikada.
  • Check the “About,” “FAQ,” or “Return policy” pages. Some sites look professional at first, but scammers aren’t always careful. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and a clear return policy; when it comes to returns, reputable sites spell them out up front.
  • Read the reviews. Many fraudulent websites’ reputations proceed them. Search for what people are saying about the site and include the term “scam” with the site name to see whether they are known to be a risky site. If the site is brand new, with no reviews, “buyer beware. It’s easy to pop up and then disappear,” she added.

So why not buy counterfeit Eagles gear?

“I hate counterfeits, professionally and unprofessionally,” said Christi Campbell, partner in intellectual property group at Duane Morris. “Just blocks from my office at Suburban Station, since last Thursday there have been tables set up. There were T-shirts for $15 or $20. But if you go to Dick’s or Modell’s, an authorized, licensed apparel, it’s much more. I paid $70 for a Wentz jersey for my son at Dick’s.”

She refuses to buy fakes. “I scrutinize the brand and I look for the hologram. As a consumer, if it falls apart at the seams, it looks bad and feels bad.”

Tillery of Pepper Hamilton helped write the Philadelphia city ordinance that criminalizes the sale of phony sports merchandise around the Phillies’ and major-league baseball team venues. But on Thursday, the Department of Licenses and Inspections, which enforces the ordinance, “likely may look the other way. No one wants bad publicity. Besides, like Churchill said, ‘In victory, be a gentleman.’ ”


For authentic Eagles merchandise from the Inquirer and Daily News, see our new online store.