Counterfeit Merchandise and Bogus Websites Use Deception and Fraud
Wallingford, CT – February 6, 2014 – As the world counts down to the beginning of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia on February 7th, Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about the sale of counterfeit merchandise and price gouging online.
Official Olympic merchandise is available through a number of sources, but counterfeit goods and outright scams are everywhere. A recent search on eBay showed 5,693 items for “Sochi 2014.” Many were authentic re-sales, but some were fraudulent. The most impressive item was the “Olympic Torch Sochi 2014. Yours for just $7,000!” The risk is not only receiving substandard merchandise that is poorly made, but also abuse of credit card information.
Consumers should familiarize themselves with Olympic logos, graphics and branding, and consider shopping directly with the official website of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Go to the official Olympic website, sochi2014.com. If it opens in French or Russian, click on the small “EN” on the left side to switch to English. Click on the word “Shop” on the top left side of the home page. If you’d like to check out a product found elsewhere or report counterfeit merchandise, hover over the little plus sign in the upper right corner and click on “Authentication.”
You can purchase authentic Team USA merchandise at teamusa.org, and Team Canada items at Olympic.ca.
Merchandise scams often appear during major sporting events, celebrations, such as a royal wedding and after celebrity deaths. If you are interested in buying collectibles, remember that they may not have any intrinsic or resale value. Most “collectible” merchandise, including special edition plates and coins is manufactured in large quantities and rarely rises in value. If you want to purchase a “limited edition” memento, check to see just how limited it is before making a decision.
If you intend to make a last-minute decision to go to the games, there are some important things to keep in mind, not the least of which is to follow the headlines, in the wake of reports of jacked-up prices and lodging that is still under construction, less than a week before the games.
Travel packages and ticket packages can easily be fraudulent or at least not what you expect. The official site for purchasing tickets is tickets.sochi2014.com, which includes authorized tickets sold between fans (click on “Fan2Fan”).
The Sochi Olympic Committee is taking it one step further with this warning:
“If you plan to purchase tickets on a website other than tickets.sochi2014.com, we strongly recommend you verify the website is authorized to sell tickets before you purchase tickets. Tickets purchased from sources other than tickets.sochi2014.com may not be valid and you may be refused entry to the venue.”
Watch the price - Ifyou are planning to make the trip to Sochi, be on the lookout for prices that seem too good to be true. Deal with reputable companies, such as, travel agencies, hotels and car rental companies. Start your search for companies you can trust at bbb.org.Also, read reviews and scope out their social media accounts. Make sure you are dealing with an established, well-regarded business.
Make sure it is in writing, but read before you sign - Be sure to confirm all reservations for hotels, rental cars or other arrangements in advance and bring confirmation numbers with you. Don’t sign any written agreement before you have read and clearly understood every item. If you’ve been told anything verbally that is not included in the agreement, refuse to sign until it has been added.
Make purchases with a credit card - Consumers should always purchase items with a credit card if they are shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, then the consumer can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.
Be cautious of phishing email scams - Scammers don’t take a break just for the Olympics. If you receive any unfamiliar or unsolicited email, don’t open attachments or click on any links. Doing so could put malware on your computer and compromise your personal and financial information.