Customs and Border Protection discusses dangers of counterfeit items

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:01 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Holiday shopping is already underway. Black Friday is just around the corner and many will choose to do their shopping online.

Customs and Border Protection officers gathered at the ports in Savannah on Thursday to show some of the counterfeit merchandise they’ve seized and the dangers you could face if you buy fake items.

“These companies that are making these counterfeit products are linked to criminal enterprises. When you give your money to them you are actually funding these criminal enterprises,” Customs and Border Protection Officer Andrew Barrett said.

Barrett said as the third largest seaport in the country, they’re constantly investigating counterfeit items and targeting high risk shipments before they get to the port. He says on average, in just one day, there’s $9 million worth of products with intellectual property rights violations that are seized in the U.S.

“Buying products that usually come from places that are very uncontrolled and made with materials that are inferior,” Barrett said.

This is why Barrett says they want consumers to be alert, specifically during the holiday season. He says when buying online, make sure you’re not buying from third party sellers and that you do your research before you confirm a sale.

“Make sure they have like a U.S. based phone number, a U.S. based address so you can actually contact them if you have any issues,” he said.

Some of the items showcased on the table were easy to pick out as counterfeit.

“You can tell by some of the stitching and some of the quality work to the products. You can tell right away that the Chanel is supposed to be two Cs, but they got a little line on here,” Barrett said.

While others aren’t. And the products used to make them can be very harmful.

When you look at something like this Yeti cup it might look real, but it was seized as counterfeit. It also has excessive lead, which could be dangerous to a consumer.

Barrett says to also pay attention to the price of items because if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. But it’s not just merchandise. Barrett says things like electrical cords can be counterfeit too and that can be dangerous.

When items are seized, Barrett says they become the federal government’s property and get destroyed.

“If your items do get seized, you’re going to have to go to that third party and it’s going to be very hard for you to recoup your losses and get your item,” Barrett said.