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$1 million in counterfeit merchandise seized by CBP in Chicago

Counterfeit watches found at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.  United States CBP

CHICAGO (CBS) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Chicago O'Hare's International Mail Branch intercepted and seized a shipment containing $1 million worth of counterfeit designer merchandise. 

The illicit shipment from Thailand included fake designer watches, bracelets, handbags, and scarves. If these items had been genuine, the value would have exceeded $1 million.

CBP officers discovered a trove of counterfeit luxury items, including 53 watches with the logos of prestigious brands such as Rolex, Gucci, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton. Nine bracelets featuring Rolex logos, three fake Louis Vuitton handbags, and two counterfeit Gucci scarves were also seized. 

These items' poor packaging and substandard craftsmanship were evident, leading to their seizure for trademark infringement. The shipment was destined for a residence in Oklahoma.

Counterfeit items, valued at about $1 million if authentic.  United States CBP

"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 LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director of Chicago Field Operations.

CBP's data highlights that handbags, wallets, apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry, and consumer electronics are at a higher risk of counterfeiting. These counterfeit versions of famous brands are frequently sold in online marketplaces and flea markets.

Apart from the issue of inferior quality, counterfeit goods are often produced in unregulated and potentially exploitative environments in foreign countries, with the profits fueling organized crime.

The package containing the counterfeit items.  United States CBP

Last year, CBP nationwide seized over 24.5 million counterfeit shipments valued at nearly $3 billion had the goods been authentic. 

Inferior quality, peeling labels, low-quality printing on packaging, and poorly packaged items can indicate that a product may be fake. Counterfeit apparel and handbags may exhibit subpar stitching and improperly sized or designed logos, while counterfeit electronics may have short battery life and overheating issues.

Consumers are urged to take simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:

  • Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or authorized retailers.
  • When shopping online, carefully review seller reviews and ensure a working U.S. phone number and a valid address for contacting the seller.
  • Consult CBP's E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.
  • Always exercise caution and skepticism when encountering unrealistically low prices, as they are often too good to be true.
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