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$350K In Bogus Winter Classic Merchandise Seized By Feds

PHILADELPHIA (WFAN/AP) — Federal authorities investigating the sale of shirts and jerseys bogusly branded NHL Winter Classic merchandise say they've seized counterfeit goods worth an estimated $350,000.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations office says they intercepted 150 international mail parcels and seized merchandise from vendors outside Citizens Bank Park, where the Philadelphia Flyers met the Rangers on Monday.

Investigators seized more than 1,600 items in all, including counterfeit MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA merchandise.

"Vendors who sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting sports fans will be held accountable," special agent John P. Kelleghan said in a statement. "These vendors sell inferior items, and tarnishing the reputation of trademark holders like the NHL. Counterfeit goods also cost U.S. industries billions of dollars in losses each year."

Authorities say the investigation is continuing and no arrests have been made.

Meanwhile, the Winter Classic was the fifth-most watched regular-season NHL game in 37 years.

New York's 3-2 victory, the fifth edition of the outdoor game, averaged 3.74 million viewers to NBC, according to fast national data provided by Nielsen Media Research on Tuesday.

The game produced a 2.1 rating and 4 share, tying the 2010 game. Last year's prime time game had a 2.3 rating and 4 share. The rating this year grew every half hour from 5 p.m. EST until the end of the game.

The 2010 game, featuring the Flyers at Boston's Fenway Park against the Bruins — the previous Winter Classic played during the afternoon — was watched by 3.68 million.

Last year's game was postponed into a night game because of rain at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. The matchup between Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby of the Penguins drew 4.5 million viewers, the most-watched, regular-season NHL game since 1975.

This year was the first time the Winter Classic was played on Jan. 2 instead of New Year's Day. The start time was pushed back from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. because of weather conditions.

Philadelphia led all markets with an 11.9 rating and 21 share, almost doubling the 6.0 rating and 11 in 2010, when the Flyers made their first appearance in the Winter Classic.

New York had a 4.3 rating and 9 share on Monday as the Rangers made their Winter Classic debut. That tied Washington for the fifth highest local market rating.

Are you surprised by the fake merch -- or the high ratings? Sound off below...

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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