Two brothers from South Jersey allegedly purchased 16,700 counterfeit NBA and NFL jerseys and were using them as prizes on the Wildwood boardwalk.
NBC40 spoke with other business owners on the boardwalk who say this kind of fraud gives the boardwalk a bad name.
Sharlean Soto is a Wildwood tourist who says she wears NBA and NFL clothing to support her favorite teams, but if she happened to win one of the jerseys on the Wildwood boardwalk over the past few years, she may have won a fake. Soto said, "Like, I wouldn’t buy anything that’s not real. I like to support my team."
Frank Stone, an employee at Mariner’s Arcade in Wildwood, said, "To have a knock-off jersey or a knock-off anything is unfortunate and it's bad for the reputation of the Wildwood boardwalk as a whole."
On Wednesday morning, officials arrested 32-year-old Brett Strothers of Egg Harbor Township, and his brother, 28-year-old Evan Strothers of Mays Landing.
The brothers are accused of participating in a conspiracy to traffic counterfeit merchandise from 2010 to 2012.
Both Strothers were charged along with two other men: one from Thailand and another from the People's Republic of China -which is allegedly where the jerseys were being manufactured.
Neighbors of the brothers say they were shocked to hear of the charges.
Zach Adams lives in the same neighborhood of Even Strothers and told NBC40, "It's pretty interesting and I don't know, you don't suspect it in your own back yard."
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the jerseys were used as prizes in several different basketball and football toss games on the Wildwood and North Wildwood boardwalk.
Most business owners that we spoke with on the boardwalk said other vendors should stand behind their products, and their prizes, without tricking their customers into buying a fake product.
Stone said, "We run a family type operation. We stand by all of our products and all of our suppliers and it's a fun place to be. It's a family place. People come in, they win points, and they put their points towards a prize. Sometimes people work a long time to get those prizes."
Officials say the manufacturer suggested retail price for the authentic versions of the jerseys is estimated at approximately 4 million dollars. Adams said, "If I put myself in the seat of the business owners, if I was an NBA owner, or an NBA player for that matter, and someone stole $4 million dollars worth of revenue from me - I would go after them. So I say yeah, they have to be prosecuted."
Both brothers were released on a 50 thousand dollar bond with travel restrictions and an employment restriction, which prohibits them from working at any boardwalk business while on release.
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