COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Law enforcement agents confiscated over 600 fake championship rings across four major U.S. professional sports leagues and the NCAA from a South Carolina memorabilia store as part of a seizure of counterfeit merchandise, the South Carolina Secretary of State announced. The counterfeit goods could have fetched as much as $15 million at retail.
The hefty price tag, the highest-value seizure in the office’s history, was driven by fake NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA championship rings, according to spokesperson Shannon Wiley. The hoard includes 157 Super Bowl rings, 83 NBA Finals rings, 99 World Series rings, 29 Stanley Cup rings and 251 NCAA championship rings for unnamed sports, Wiley said.
Federal, state and local officials raided Kirk’s Collectibles at an upstate mall on Feb. 8. No arrests have been made. The shop also sells nonsports memorabilia, according to its website. The South Carolina Secretary of State’s office said it cannot share information about the number of suspects while a U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation is underway.
Law enforcement officials emphasized the severity of counterfeiting. South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond said it is not a “victimless crime.”
“Whether it’s a fan losing their hard-earned money on a fake item they were led to believe was authentic, or small businesses losing vital sales, intellectual property theft is a real crime with real victims and real financial impacts,” said Ronnie Martinez, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigative arm in Charlotte, North Carolina.