U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized 13,586 counterfeit designer products, which would have been worth a total estimated price of $30,437,775 had they been genuine, the agency announced Thursday. Officers warned shoppers to be on the lookout for counterfeit goods amid the holiday season.
"Bad actors exploit e-commerce operations by selling counterfeit and unsafe goods through online platforms, particularly during the holiday season when shoppers are looking for deals," Los Angeles and Long Beach's port director Donald R. Kusser said in a statement Thursday.
On November 9, Border Patrol officers and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations special agents said they seized a shipment arriving at the Los Angeles and Long Beach Seaport from China. The shipment included counterfeit products like tote and shoulder bags as well as backpacks and shirts that sported registered and recorded trademarks including Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton.
According to CBP, bringing counterfeit goods into the country can warrant civil or criminal penalties, and purchasing pirated products is illegal.
Last year, the agency said it seized more than 26,000 shipments with counterfeit products — estimated to be worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been real — throughout the U.S. Handbags, wallets and COVID-19 related products were among the most seized items in 2020, and China was the common original source, CBP reported.
The agency warns that counterfeit products are usually low-quality, threaten the nation's economy, can contribute to other criminal activities like human trafficking and may pose health and safety risks for consumers.
"Now more than ever, CBP officers remain vigilant, committed, and focused on disrupting these smuggling operations," Carlos C. Martel, the director of field operations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Counterfeit products are typically sold on unofficial websites behind listings that seem legitimate, the agency said. Consumers are advised to protect themselves against buying fake products by buying goods directly from official retailers or the trademark holder and reading seller reviews when shopping online. Meanwhile, retailers are urged to record their trademarks and copyrights with CBP to protect their brands.
"If the price of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is," Kusser said.