As if Homeland Security agents don't have enough to worry about, the feds were boasting Monday about their latest big bust: counterfeiters peddling bogus Giants World Series memorabilia.
Hidden among the Giants fans outside AT&T Park last week were a dozen undercover federal agents hunting for phony Major League Baseball shirts and caps.
They found plenty, seizing 1,019 T-shirts, 109 ball caps and 69 knit hats from vendors outside the San Francisco ballpark during the first two games of the World Series.
"This is theft of American talent, theft of American ideas," said Anthony Ho, the special agent in charge of the Bay Area branch of Homeland Security Investigations, an arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security that combats intellectual property theft.
He displayed the seized goods at a press conference Monday, the morning after the Giants beat the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep of the World Series.
"People will try to buy these shirts because the Giants are winners," Ho said. If genuine, the same items would have been worth about $25,000. Most vendors were selling the shirts for $20, below the retail price. Ho pointed out the low quality of the fakes, the absence of the official MLB hologram and tags that say "Made in India" instead of America.
Investigators believe the counterfeit vendors and manufacturers operate as a ring. They take plain black T-shirts made abroad and stamp them with orange logos mimicking the Major League Baseball's official Giants clothing, Ho said.
He also suspects Los Angeles street gangs are involved, though couldn't say why. Most of the vendors came from Southern California. None was arrested, though agents took down names and hope to continue their investigation and find the source of the fake goods.
"This money doesn't go to the Giants. It goes to a gang in LA," he said.
The federal agents trolled AT&T Park in a similar sting two years ago when the Giants won the World Series against the Texas Rangers. They later donated the seized clothing to victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.