CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It’s a given that when a big event is happening – con artists will look for any opportunity to make a dollar.
With NBA All-Star activities coming to Charlotte from February 15th-to-17th, police and league executives say they’ll be on the lookout for crooks.
One of the biggest issues will likely be counterfeit merchandise..
“It’s a very important issue to us for a couple of reasons. One is we think counterfeiting really detracts overall from the fan experience and the All-Star game is meant to be a celebration of basketball and the fan experience,” said NBA Vice President Michael Potenza. “When people buy shoddy merchandise… it’s not genuine, it doesn’t use the right logos and trademarks and spells players names wrong… that’s the kind of stuff that detracts overall from the fan experience.”
Potenza, who is also Intellectual Property Counsel for the NBA, says league staff and police will walk around the arenas and surrounding areas looking for people who are selling counterfeit items.
Potenza says fans have to play their part and be vigilant when buying items.
“The most important thing to remember if you’re a consumer is to look for the NBA hang tag. There’s a hang tag that comes on all official NBA merchandise and a sticker on smaller items like caps,” said Potenza. “What you want to do is look for that holographic hang tag or sticker. There will be a nice sharp color hologram that will really pop out at you. If it doesn’t have that kind of sticker or hang tag, it’s a good sign it’s fake.”
The NBA also recommends fans look to make sure names and logos of licensees – such as Nike or New Era - be sewn in or applied directly to the article.
Potenza has another piece of advice when buying All-Star gear.
“You want to look overall for high quality merchandise. No ripped labels. No misspellings. No fading colors -that sort of thing and then finally I just say consumers should use their common sense – if a deal is too good to be true or seems that way it probably is.”
It’s not just counterfeit merchandise that crooks will try to unload. Fake tickets could also appear.
“Not the most common occurrence – but have an incident or two every year where something like that happens,” said Potenza. “Unfortunately we have run into counterfeit tickets over the years. People can make tickets that look real and unfortunately they all have information inside them when they get scanned that says whether they’re real or not when you get to the actual arena.”
The league says fans should go to official outlets like Ticketmaster to get tickets.
“Unfortunately we had incidents in the past when people would buy counterfeit tickets and come to the arena and have to be turned away” Potenza said.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) will also have to contend with unofficial parties.
“We're doing our best to track those” said Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings. Some promoters are going to be looking to cash in on the NBA's name and logo - takings fan money for unofficial parties. Police say it's on their radar but they're not giving any specifics about the plan of attack. "I think we have a pretty solid plan to address any issues that come across that's not sanctioned by the NBA that might be some other location,” said Jennings. “We will be able to respond to those appropriately."
“We see that around All-Star sometimes… people will buy misleading domain names - like Charlotte All-Star 2019 something like that - and we try to address that with the hosting companies, social media to get them to stop using our I.T” said Potenza.
“Our concern there is that consumers are not being misled into thinking they’re going to go to this party and there will be something official with the NBA when it’s not.”
Potenza says league workers check online year-round but they pick up their monitoring during All-Star events.