Federal officers recently seized counterfeit NBA championship rings worth more than half a million dollars at the Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said Wednesday.
Agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection found 28 rings while examining an Arizona-bound shipment from China, according to the agency.
“The rings were found inside of a wooden box, with the apparent intent to be sold as a collection,” a statement from CBP said.
Experts confirmed that the designs violated trademarks by the Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Air Jordan, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and the NBA, according to CBP.
An authentic NBA championship ring typically costs between $10,000 and $40,000 but could fetch more than $200,000 in some cases, officials said.
The rings confiscated at LAX could have been sold at a total retail price of $560,000, CBP estimated.
No arrest has been made, but the seizure means a significant economic loss to the smugglers, agency spokesman Jaime Ruiz said.
Transnational criminal groups have been shipping illicit goods to the U.S. through small express parcels to try avoiding U.S. laws, said Donald Kusser, CBP Port Director at LAX.
The agency said scammers take advantage of collectors and fans who want to own a piece of NBA history.
CBP seized $1.4 billion’s worth of goods that violated intellectual property rights in 2018, up from $1.2 billion from the previous year.