MEMPHIS, Tenn., — On Tuesday, Sept. 21, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPOs) at the port of Memphis selected for inspection a shipment from The United Arab Emirates enroute to an apartment in Little Rock. The shipment was listed as “LADIES JEWELRY.” Inside the shipment CBPOs found 480 pairs of earrings that had the recorded trademarks of Chanel. The earrings were identified as counterfeit based on the low value claimed, incorrect appearance and low-quality construction, and shoddy packaging method. Authentic Chanel earrings of similar styles go for $425 to $700 and upwards. If these had been authentic, and sold for the manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP), the value would have been $324,000.
Illicit manufacturers continue to exploit the rapid growth of e-commerce to sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers in the United States. In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP seized more than 26,500 shipments containing counterfeit goods that would have been worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been genuine.
CBP data indicates that handbags, wallets, apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry, and consumer electronics are at higher risk of being counterfeited. Counterfeit watches and jewelry make up almost half of seized goods. Counterfeit versions of popular brands are regularly sold in online marketplaces and flea markets. Counterfeit goods hurt the U.S. economy, cost Americans their jobs, threaten consumer health and safety, and fund criminal activity.
“Counterfeit goods are poor quality products that cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars a year while robbing our country of jobs and tax revenues,” said Crystal Lopera, Assistant Area Port Director. “Consumers often believe they are buying a genuine product, possibly thinking they are receiving a great discount, but upon receiving them realize the item is a substandard fake.”
CBP personnel intercept counterfeit goods bound for consumers and marketplaces throughout the United States every day.
Other recent CBP seizures include $67 million in counterfeit watches seized in Louisville, 86 counterfeit championship rings seized in Chicago, $53 million worth of fake designer products in two containerized shipments from China, which were stopped at the Port of Long Beach, Calif.
In addition to posing potential health and safety hazards, counterfeit goods are often of inferior quality. Peeling labels, low-quality ink or printing errors on the packaging, and loosely packed items in the box can be signs that the product you purchased may not be legitimate. Counterfeit apparel and handbags may feature poor or uneven stitching and improperly sized or designed logos. The performance of counterfeit electronics is often marked by short battery life and regular overheating.
Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods with the following tips:
Purchased goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and an address that can be used to contact the seller.
Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.
Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.
To report suspected counterfeits, visit CBP’s online e-Allegations portal or call 1-800-BE-ALERT. More information about counterfeit goods is available at www.StopFakes.gov.