Bill Cureton loves the Dallas Cowboys. But his son Ben — he's a fanatic.
"The Cowboys are a good local team," said Ben.
He wanted a Sean Lee jersey for Christmas to add to his impressive collection. His dad searched online, but all the well known businesses were all sold out.
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He started browsing through unfamiliar sites and came across Fansgoods.com.
"Well, when you log into the site, it looks like a normal NFL licensed shop," says Cureton.
And there the Sean Lee jersey was; the right size at a great price. He placed the order, and got a confirmation email, but no tracking or shipping number.
Two months later, no jersey.
"I continue send them E-mails saying, 'where is it? what's going on here?' The same answer is, due to the volume of it being Christmas, customs is backed up," says Cureton, "I'm basically right now saying OK, this is a loss."
Dave Westray is in the same situation. He came across Cowboynavyshop.com in November and ordered a Dak Prescott jersey for his wife.
Christmas rolled around, and the jersey never came.
"I emailed again in January and said I'm done, I've had it, I want my money back, cancel the order. And that's when they said I'm sorry, you are not allowed to cancel your order. It really hurts to think I got burned," says Westray.
At first glance you'd think these companies are legit. One even shows the NFL logo, but with no customer service number on one page, a non-working number on the other, ridiculously cheap prices and dozens of complaints online, the warning signs were there.
"I guess it's that old adage: buyer beware," says Westray.
We reached out to both companies to find out what happened to these guys orders. We haven't heard back, but Cureton did.
"Then, kind of all of a sudden, it arrived Saturday afternoon," he said.
The jersey looks like the real deal, but the label says it was shipped out of Shanghai.
According to a Cowboys spokesperson, "Any site shipping direct form a foreign country is unauthorized.”
Ben says he's still going to wear his Sean Lee jersey for the Super Bowl. But Westray's wife is out of luck.
"That was my lesson learned. If you want legitimate stuff, you gotta go to a legitimate place."
These sites are everywhere.
If you shop online for jerseys you need to find out where your item is being shipped from. If it’s out of the country, you probably shouldn’t buy it if you're looking for authentic apparel.
Don’t be fooled by the NFL logo on a website.
If you are physically looking at team merchandise, there are clues to tell if the product is authentic.
Price, again, is a big consideration. Also, look at the stitching. It's often sloppy on fakes. Tags should not be cut or say "irregular." There can also be misspellings on the actual item.
And the biggest clue — the hologram.
All NFL merchandise carries it. When you move it back and forth and from side to side, you should see a different or changing picture. Fakes either don't have a sticker at all, or they will carry something shiny, but not a true hologram.
The NFL recommends ordering directly from its website at NFL.com.