Did you buy your 49ers jersey on the street for around $40, instead of $80?

Then you probably fed into the thriving counterfeit-jersey black market, which thrives ever harder as the NFL season heats up, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz.

At LAX alone, Ruiz says, customs officers have seized 10,710 fake jerseys …

… since the season kicked off last September. That's $847,000 down the drain for the sketch-artists on the other end. (And we don't even have a football team! Imagine the loot once AEG sweet-talks its way into a stadium downtown.)

“The counterfeiters, they kind of bank on the fever of football,” Ruiz says.

So all you dudes (and footballer females) making fun of us for the fake Gucci bags we pick up at Santee Alley swap meets? You're one to talk.

Though the jerseys come in “all teams, models and colors,” Ruiz says that “At the very end [of the season], the winning teams become a hot commodity. They can kind of increase the price astronomically.”

The officers use the following as tip-offs that a package might contain fake jerseys: Where it came from (Ruiz mentions certain regions in China), the size of the shipment (jerseys “come in small packages, not containers”), and ultimately, upon inspection, the quality of the product.

Case in point: That suspicious thread dangling from yonder neckline.

Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

“If that team does not win, [the counterfeiters] will keep it for next year,” says Ruiz. Keeping Customs in business, one NFL season to the next.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly