CLEVELAND — The 2019 MLB All-Star game is projected to bring $65 million to the city of Cleveland. But with all the money, visitors and activities come scammers looking to profit off unknowing fans.
The city of Cleveland and MLB on Tuesday held a news conference to provide safety tips for fans, including how to avoid becoming a victim of counterfeiting.
MLB Senior Vice President of Legal, Business and Club Affairs Ethan Orlinsky said there are only three types of tickets for All-Star Week events: souvenir, spitter stock and digital. There are no printed home tickets for All-Star events, Orlinsky warned.
Orlinsky said his office is working with the city of Cleveland to combat counterfeiting during All-Star Week, adding that representatives from his office and the city will be working undercover to monitor vendors.
"We just want to do our piece in connection with the activities here this week, because we know that counterfeiters are trying to prey on the innocent fan, the victim, who want to just make a buy to have a keepsake from the event," Orlinsky said.
Fans purchasing gear from vendors should examine the holographic sticker on MLB products. All officially licensed MLB products have a hologram with a unique, alphanumeric combination, meaning no two numbers are alike. All official holographic stickers also have raised, red printing that buyers can feel.
"If you see a combination of letters and numbers on a product, and you see the exact same combination of letters and numbers on a different product, the item is counterfeit," Orlinsky explained.
Orlinsky also warned that merchandise produced by counterfeiters is usually of shoddy quality, adding that MLB doesn't license products that are substandard. Items with a cut label in the neck or hat are likely to be counterfeit, he explained.
Orlinsky urged fans to buy merchandise from Progressive Field or MLB.com to ensure authenticity.
Fans who are unsure of the validity of items they're purchasing from vendors can call a hotline created by MLB: 1-800-TELCAPS.
Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. Legitimate vendors and licensees are hurt by counterfeiting, as well as taxpayers since many counterfeiters don't pay taxes on the items they sell.
More than 750,000 jobs and $500 billion are lost annually to counterfeiting, according to Orlinsky.