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Counterfeit Santa, Snowman Lights Among Seized Shipment From China

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Life-sized Santa Claus, snowman and polar bear Christmas lights were among a seized counterfeit shipment confiscated by customs agents last month,, U.S. border officials said Monday.

Officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Los Angeles-Long Beach seaport complex seized 151 figurines on November 23 and November 25.

CBP officers found the counterfeit merchandise in two shipments originating from China after they determined their UL certifications were phony.

The fake credentials could mean the lights fail to meet U.S. electrical safety standards, officials said.

The estimated retail value for the potentially dangerous lighting units is as much as $173,000, officials said.

The products were identified by the Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center in Washington, D.C., as part of a joint national operation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Enforcing product safety laws is a top priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection," said Todd C. Owen CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles. "By seizing untested and potentially hazardous products at our nation's largest seaport, CBP officers not only protect the American consumer but contribute to a safe holiday season."

In fiscal year 2010, electrical articles presenting potential safety or security risks, with an estimated domestic value of $7.9 million, represented 19 percent of all commodities seized by CBP.

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