Beware of counterfeit merchandise during NBA All-Star week - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Beware of counterfeit merchandise during NBA All-Star week

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

One of the first vendors to set up outside the Toyota Center is Tom Elliott from Chicago. He works for Sports Fans Marketing.

"They realized it was all official licensed merchandise and they pulled out their homeland security badge and said, 'Good, they had some counterfeiters out there,'" says Elliott.

That's the experience Elliott just had at the Super Bowl and he expects federal authorities, along with local law enforcement, to be just as aggressive in Houston for the NBA All-Star Weekend targeting those who sell counterfeit merchandise during the event.

"We sell all official licensed merchandise for our company and that hurts us when they're down the street selling $5 and $10 t-shirts and we have the real stuff and it's a little more expensive," says Elliott.

Since 1992, statistics show the National Basketball Association has lost a minimum of $89 million dollars to the black market when it comes to counterfeiting.

Amanda Thorn is with the NBA. She says fans who buy counterfeit products are shortchanging themselves and the actual counterfeiter is putting a dent in the economy.

"The counterfeiters are not only taking advantage of the fans but of the local tax paying businesses and this is what their livelihood is based selling the merchandise they have a right to sell," says Thorn. She adds that there are some easy ways to make sure you don't buy fake merchandise. She recommends looking for the NBA hologram, buy from a licensed retailer, feel for actual quality in the product and spelling, yes spelling.

"Make sure the spelling of the names of all the events are correct. You wouldn't believe how much that occurs in counterfeit merchandise," says Thorn.

Products that Mark Faulk says he would never buy as a fan of sports memorabilia in Houston.

"You're paying a premium for it and you're paying good money and you want authentic stuff," says Faulk.

And that is music to the ears of the NBA and roadside sanctioned vendors like Tom Elliott just outside of the Toyota Center.

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