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Feds Sound Alarm On Non-Reputable Online Sites, Sellers Pushing Counterfeit Goods During Holiday Shopping Season

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Counterfeiting is big business, but just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday officials want shoppers to be aware of what they buy and are showing us how to spot a fake.

With fears over a shortage of goods this holiday season, officials from Department of Homeland Security investigations and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are concerned shoppers will turn to non-reputable online sites or fall victim to counterfeit sellers, CBS2's Thalia Perez reported Thursday.

"So if you have Nike sneakers coming from, or some of these products coming from, a country that our subject matter experts know is not a source country for that product, that's the first indicator right there," Customs and Border Protection port director Sal Ingrassia said.

Items like Nike sneakers all have an individual QR code inside that helps to identify the fakes from the legitimate brands. Goods like handbags that may be harder to spot all have hardware and stitching that is unique to the item. New technology is helping the good guys crack down on counterfeiters.

Officials say counterfeit products that you would put on your body or face are of particular concern. You should really look out for certain makeups, which look very much like the real thing.

"These counterfeit products are not put through the same standards. In fact, we have seen these products have arsenic levels in them and other types of dangerous products," Ingrassia said.

Smartphones, designer sunglasses, and belts are also among highly counterfeited items.

The goods are said to be manufactured overseas in places like China and then shipped to ports across the U.S. Last year at John F. Kennedy Airport, more than 3,800 shipments of fake goods were seized that would have been worth $227 million had they been the real thing.

"There is a consumer experience that people get in buying a brand name product that you cannot replace with a counterfeit," Midtown shopper Katherine Mattikow said.

Officials say the best advice is if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

CBS2's Thalia Perez contributed to this report.

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