• Kyodo

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Around 300 counterfeit World Cup trophies have been found at the warehouse of Tokyo health food firm Albien, police sources said Wednesday.

The warehouse in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, was raided by police, along with 32 other locations, in connection with a suspected illegal investment scheme involving Albien.

Investigators suspect Albien was using the warehouse as a distribution center and was attempting to distribute the trophies without the permission of soccer’s world governing body, FIFA.

The trophies were packed in sets with pomegranate drinks, ready to be shipped to Albien branches nationwide, the sources said.

Albien, led by Chairman Masanori Eguchi, 54, leased the warehouse from a local transport firm last May, according to the sources.

The firm is suspected of bilking some 3,000 investors, including housewives, out of more than 7 billion yen in violation of the investment law.

It reportedly persuaded clients to invest in sales of pomegranate drinks and other products by telling them that a 3 million yen investment would lead to monthly dividends of 400,000 yen.

Police believe there were about 1,800 cardboard boxes packed with health drinks and fake World Cup trophies in the warehouse at one point.

Soccer shirts arrest

OSAKA — Police have arrested the owner and the manager of an Osaka shop on suspicion of possessing counterfeit Japanese national soccer shirts for the purpose of sale.

The shop’s owner, 50-year-old Keiji Tanaka, and its manager, 39-year-old Yoshifumi Tsujimoto, were held on suspicion of violating the Trademark Law. The arrests are the first in Japan related to counterfeit World Cup products, according to the police.

The suspects allegedly had four counterfeit shirts at the sundries store in Osaka’s Chuo Ward when they were arrested Tuesday. Tanaka was quoted by the police as saying he bought the shirts in Thailand in mid-April.

Tanaka allegedly bought around 80 counterfeit shirts — of various teams participating in the World Cup soccer finals — for about 200 yen each.

The shop is suspected of selling a counterfeit Japanese national team shirt for 1,900 yen. Official Japanese national team shirts sell for 9,900 yen.

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