Border Patrol seized fake NBA championship rings valued at $560,000

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency busted a counterfeit shipment of National Basketball Association championship rings at Los Angeles International Airport. This crackdown comes before the sport’s pre-season start on Sept. 30.

In a press release sent out Wednesday, the federal agency reported there were 28 rings seized that violated protected trademarks and designs for 11 NBA teams. The report also noted that if found genuine, the seized rings would have an approximate manufacturer suggested retail price of $560,000.

The discovery was made by U.S. CBP officers working in the airport’s cargo operations department. During an enforcement exam, the officers found the shipment had arrived from China and had a final destination in Arizona.

“The rings were found inside of a wooden box, with the apparent intent to be sold as a collection,” the report elaborated. “The quantity and estimated MSRP value of counterfeit items seized are clear indications of the profits that are involved in the illegal trade of counterfeit NBA championship rings.”

This seizure valued at over half a million dollars comes at a time when businesses and the U.S. government are trying to curb intellectual property theft from china.

Import specialists working in the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence confirmed the rings infringed on the trademarks of the following teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors.

Both Air Jordan and the NBA trophy design were also found to be violated trademarks in this bust.

According to the CBP’s report, a legitimate NBA championship ring can have a ranging price between $10,000 and $40,000. In some cases, a single ring can even cost over $200,000.

“Scammers take advantage of collectors and pro-basketball fans desiring to obtain a piece of sports history,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles in a statement.

He added: “This seizure illustrates how CBP officers and import specialists protect not only trademarks, but most importantly, the American consumer.”

In fiscal year of 2018, the CBP reported it seized 33,810 shipments of counterfeit goods. According to the agency’s estimate, if those goods were genuine, the MSRP value would be $1.4 billion.

That is an increase from the estimated $1.2 billion in the 2017 fiscal year.

Clothing and accessories were at the top of the CBP’s list—having conducted 6,098 seizures in 2018. That’s a whopping 18 percent of all the seizures done that year. 

Within this category, watches and jewelry were top offenders. Collectively, these seized items had a total MSRP value over $618 million—which represented 44 percent of the total.  Handbags and wallets were second largest with seizures estimated to be valued at more than $226 million.

CBP Port Director at LAX, Donald R. Kusser, said in the release, “Transnational criminal organizations are shipping illicit goods to the United States via small express parcels in an attempt to circumvent U.S. laws.”

He also noted that LAX is equipped with resources to “intercept and seize illicit goods in a challenging e-commerce global environment.”

Smaller airports in the country may have a harder time keeping counterfeit products out of the hands of citizens.


To minimize the sale of counterfeit goods, the CBP has established an educational initiative at U.S. airports and online to raise consumer awareness around the consequences and dangers that come with these purchases.

The CBP are also directing consumers to its Fake Goods, Real Dangers page for information on safe shopping.