I.C.E. SEIZES FAKE
Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME CARDS
March 8, 2005 - LOS
ANGELES – U.S. Immigration and
Enforcement (ICE) agents executed a search warrant late last
week at a Los Angeles area warehouse and seized what
industry representatives say is the largest cache of
counterfeit Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards ever recovered.
Officials at the Carlsbad regional office of Upper Deck, the
company licensed to distribute the popular trading card
game, say the cards seized during Wednesday’s operation
would retail for almost $3 million if they were genuine.
The bulk of the counterfeit game cards were discovered at a
warehouse in Vernon where a company called J.S.K.
International rented space. ICE obtained a search warrant
for the warehouse after a vendor in downtown Los Angeles
offered to sell an ICE undercover agent 250 cartons of the
counterfeit cards for more than $36,000. The vendor told the
ICE agent he could pick up the merchandise at a warehouse at
1566 Rio Vista Avenue. Inside the warehouse, ICE agents
found approximately 350 cases of the counterfeit trading
“What makes this case so compelling is that the potential
victims were children,” said Steve Lovett, the supervisory
special agent who oversees ICE’s trade fraud unit in Los
Angeles. “Beyond that, the profits from the sale of
counterfeit merchandise worldwide often go to support other
types of criminal enterprise. That is why ICE is committed
to working aggressively with private industry to dismantle
So far, no arrests have been made in the card counterfeiting
scheme, but the investigation is ongoing. ICE agents believe
the bogus cards were manufactured in China. The initial lead
in the probe came from investigators working for Yu-Gi-Oh!’s
trademark holder, Upper Deck.
According to industry representatives, Yu-Gi-Oh!
the top-rated trading card game in the country, accounting
for billions of dollars in annual retail sales worldwide.
The object of the Yu-Gi-Oh! game is to win a Match by
reducing an opponent’s “points” from 8,000 to zero. This is
accomplished through a series of turns using a deck with a
minimum of 40 cards and a combination of strategy, skill,
“This seizure is part of our ongoing effort to rid the
global marketplace of counterfeiting, which hurts consumers
and retailers alike,” said Sharon Hannis, with Upper Deck’s
fraud investigation team. “Not only is Upper Deck working
with government agencies worldwide to protect the integrity
of our name and brands, we are also partnering with
consumers to identify those who illegally manufacture and
distribute fake products.”
The Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is based on the Yu-Gi-Oh!™ comic
series from artist Kazuki Takahashi that first appeared in
Japan in 1996. Yu-Gi-Oh!™ follows the adventures of Yugi, a
young boy who possesses the “Millennium Puzzle” that allows
him to transform into the “Game King” whenever he is
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