The Cincinnati Better Business Bureau has just issued an alert about websites from China selling counterfeit Cincinnati Bengals jerseys and merchandise.
The BBB has received dozens of complaints from consumers who didn't receive their order, or received items that were clearly fakes.
This comes a week after our WCPO.COM report into counterfeit Bengals gear, and our interview with a fan who ended up spending hundreds of dollars and receiving nothing.
Our original story, with the warning signs of a counterfeit website, follows here:
Thinking of buying some Cincinnati Bengals shirts, hats, and jerseys as a Christmas gift? Be careful where you order from.
Duane Bellamy, hoping to save money on some Bengals gear for himself and family members, thought he found an official Bengals website selling player and fan jerseys at discounted prices.
When he stumbled upon "Bengals NFL Pro Store.com," he decided to order several jerseys.
The site had all the correct Bengals, NFL, and Nike logos, so he assumed it was connected with the Bengals Pro Shop at Paul Brown stadium.
Unfortunately, it wasn't, and his hopes of great Christmas gifts were soon dashed.
"Immediately after I ordered them," Bellamy said, "there was no delivery date, like you should receive this in so many weeks, or anything."
But his credit card was charged, and hit with an unexpected international surcharge.
"When I looked at my statement, from my credit card, the price was different from what they said I was going to pay online," he said, due to that surcharge.
More concerning: Bellamy's card was billed from Xamien, a city on the coast of China.
Lookalike Chinese Websites Everywhere
At Koch's Sporting goods in Downtown Cincinnati, co-owner Greg Koch says fans have brought him half-priced jerseys purchased at several Chinese websites.
He says you can find these lookalike websites for every team in the NFL, churning out counterfeit jerseys for Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and other stars.
He keeps several in the store to show fans who balk at the price of officially licensed NFL products.
"We've got numbers that are too small, numbers that are the wrong shade, we've got jersey fabrics the wrong shade, sleeve imprints that are faded," Koch explained.
He said some come in a bright day-glo orange, that make fans look like construction workers on the highway.
And that's if they arrive at all. Many NFL fans across the country report jerseys not arriving after several months, with no way to reach the company behind their team's website.
These are all counterfeit jerseys, not approved by the Bengals or NFL for sale in the USA.
The Bengals have nothing to do with these websites, and do not approve of them.
How to Protect Yourself
The Better Business Bureau says to protect yourself from counterfeits:
- Look over the website carefully for poor grammar or spelling errors, a red flag it is not based in the USA. Bengals NFL Pro Shop's pages have several misspellings in them.
- Look for a business address, with a street and state. Again, the Bengals NFL Pro website has no address, anywhere. You don't learn it is in China until you see your credit card statement.
- Check out the business at BBB.org to see if it is real, and if so, how many complaints consumers have filed against it.
Koch says if you are lucky you may get a discount jersey, but says it will likely be a cheap counterfeit.
"If I'm buying an authentic jersey, I want it to be authentic," Koch said.
We emailed Bengals NFL Pro Store.com through their online feedback form, but received no response. There is no phone number or other contact info.
Duane Bellamy, meantime, can only wait and hope that his Christmas gifts show up.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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