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ATLANTA (CBS) — Just days away from Super Bowl 53, authorities announced the arrests of more than a dozen people involved in a huge counterfeit scheme. And several of those facing charges are from right here in Philadelphia.
Scores of fans may have been defrauded out of tickets to marquee Philly sporting events and concerts.
Now, at least seven Philadelphians face charges in the major counterfeit ring.
“With all the good that comes with the events like the Super Bowl, there’s an opportunity for criminals to prey on unwitting victims. These events attract people looking to make a quick buck through counterfeiting,” said Bill McSwain, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
McSwain outlined six separate indictments, charging 13 individuals with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.
“Criminal counterfeiting and piracy are serious crimes,” McSwain said. “When fans spend their hard-earned money on NFL tickets and merchandise, they deserve the real deal.”
Seven of the suspects are from Philadelphia and some allegedly sold counterfeit tickets tickets to a number of Philly sporting events, including Eagles games and last year’s Super Bowl.
“Many of the individuals that we have charged have allegedly defrauded football fans by printing, distributing and selling counterfeit tickets,” McSwain said.
Officials say one of the suspects, 48-year-old Damon Daniels of New York, was arrested in Atlanta, en route to this year’s Super Bowl.
“Mr. Daniels’ car was filled with printing equipment and card stock, presumably to resume counterfeit ticket sales at this year’s Super Bowl,” McSwain said.
“At the beginning stages of the investigation, there were literally hundreds of people being victimized at any given Eagles event,” an official said.
The FBI, local law enforcement and several entities including the NFL, worked in partnership to spearhead this three-year-long, multi-state investigation.
Officials left sports and concert fans with these words of advice.
“When you are buying tickets, you must consider the source,” McSwain said. “The safest route is always to purchase from an approved source.”
The US Attorney says charges for all of the individuals named in the indictments will depend on the extent of the financial loss attributed to their conduct.
Some could face considerable jail time if convicted.