Mustafa Ahmadi, left, and Sonia Qudrat, right, were arrested following a takedown of counterfeit sports apparel. (LVMPD)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
A Las Vegas couple is behind bars after local and federal authorities caught them selling phony merchandise to tourists. It's part of a nationwide crackdown called Operation Red Zone.
Authorities said Mustafa Ahmadi and Sonia Qudrat sold fake goods at two kiosks along the Fremont Street Experience. The couple duped shoppers into buying sports jerseys for $30 when a genuine jersey costs $100-$200.
Authorities said if the items had been real, it would have been worth about $15,000.
"Basically the whole operation was counterfeit," said Michael Stevenson of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations. "They would have a Denver Broncos jersey. They would put names on it, whatever you wanted."
Las Vegas Metro Police along with Homeland Security Investigations arrested Ahmadi and Qudrat after surveillance video caught the couple selling counterfeit goods for months.
Among the items include 600 phony NFL logos and more than six dozen knock off sports jerseys. They also found shirts and sweatshirts bearing Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL logos.
"When you come to Vegas, you expect a great time and a great deal," said Robert Sigal of Las Vegas Metro Police. "We don't want to give them a fake product that's not going to live up to their expectation. It's going to make them think poorly of our city and their trip here."
Authorities said the couple violated copyright infringement laws, costing jobs and hurting the economy. It's estimated the sale of counterfeit goods costs the sports industry about $250 billion dollars a year.
"It's becoming more lucrative as opposed to selling or buying drugs," said Stevenson. "The penalty isn't usually as steep but it's good money. They might buy one of these shirts for $3, put a logo on it and sell it for $39."
Counterfeit goods are often sold at flea markets, swap meets and kiosks. Authorities said ways to spot them include checking if the merchandise is bad material and if the logos are in the wrong place.
Investigators warn counterfeit merchandise is also being sold online. In addition to sports apparel, the bogus goods include purses and even medication. People who do buy fake goods usually don't get their money back.
Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Friday, February 28 2014 3:27 AM EST2014-02-28 08:27:54 GMT
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