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Phony Designer Duds, Bags Put On ICE

MIAMI (CBS4) – The Homeland Security Investigations division of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement just wrapped up their annual Operation Holiday Hoax where they seized thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit designer clothes, bags, shoes and other apparel.

ICE agents said the counterfeit merchandise business costs American businesses billions of dollars every year along with American jobs.

The six-week operation focused on retailers who were selling the phony designer goods with names like Louis Vuitton, Coach, Gucci, Swatch and more.

ICE said they realize that those who sell the items and those who buy the lookalikes for rock bottom prices don't think it's such a big deal.

"It's just a counterfeit purse, it's just a counterfeit watch, it's really not that big of an issue, it's really not hurting anybody. Well, we're hear to say that it does," said Homeland Security Agent Carmen Pino.

The cheap fakes, put on display at a news conference in Sweetwater, were mostly from China. They represented approximately $80 million worth of legitimate designer products, money that didn't go to American companies. ICE said not only do counterfeits hurt the U.S. economy some of the products can be dangerous.

"Some of these things can pose a safety threat to your children in terms of toys with parts that can break off or are coated with lead paint," said agent Gerard O'Neill.

ICE said they did not make any arrests during the operation. They're hoping to work their way up the ladder with retailers who sell the phony goods to find those who are behind the counterfeit goods operations.

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