Federal authorities work to fight counterfeit products


BALTIMORE – Gifts that appear to be theft could be counterfeit. US Customs and Border Protection frequently seizes counterfeits, including $ 30 million fake designer products in the past month.

Officers examine manifests and invoices for various shipments. If something is wrong, this shipment is sent to a centralized examination station.

“Here we have a bunch of different products that come from all over the world,” said Shane Smith, customs and border protection officer at the Port of Baltimore.

The boxes run the length of the building and contain toys, car parts, and sometimes counterfeit goods.

CBP seized 26,503 shipments of counterfeit products worth more than $ 1.3 billion in 2020, an average of $ 3.6 million in counterfeit products seized each day.

“Even though this packaging looks amazing, we still don’t know the ingredients in it,” Smith said of a counterfeit Kylie lip kit. “If they are produced in a location where the supply chain is not as secure and the ingredients are unknown, it poses a health and safety concern for the average consumer who puts it on their lips.”

Manufacturers provide product guides and contacts to help CBP officers identify counterfeits.

“There are supposed to be three points of contact – the ‘d’, the ‘i’ and the ‘d’,” Smith said of a counterfeit Adidas jersey. “So yeah, they hit that, so you’re thinking, okay, that’s probably right on the surface.” But then when you delve deeper into the product guide, you notice inside that shirt, that’s where the red flag is. There is no writing on this label.

Counterfeiters are cunning. They will learn these tell and then try to bypass them. For example, agents discovered a shipment of counterfeit AirPods. The logo on the box was raised, an Apple security feature, however, the serial number of each box was the same. And although the headphones worked, officers found the quality to be subpar.

“These items can sell for up to $ 2,000 to $ 4,000 MSRP and people are selling them for $ 700 or even $ 200,” Smith said. “But again, you have to think about the livelihoods of the American people, the employees of these companies, and we have to protect our economy and have consumer confidence in what we buy.”

Smith added that sending money to counterfeiters could fund illegal activity, and cutting corners with safety rules can be harmful to your health, home or children.

“If it is a choking hazard for a child, it can be seized or destroyed and not be imported,” Smith said.

CBP has partnered with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to identify dangerous toys and test different metals and chemicals.

A shipment of swing seats has recently been reported with unusually high lead content.

“So the kids could potentially touch that, swing on the swing, and then touch their binkies or their mouths and they could ingest harmful substances,” Smith said. “We’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of swings that could be found on different playgrounds in every suburb of the state of Maryland.”

The main counterfeit products seized by CBP are handbags and wallets, clothing, shoes, watches and jewelry, and electronics.

CBP is also warning consumers against counterfeit pharmaceuticals and has seen an increase in COVID tests, face masks and counterfeit COVID treatments.

Click here report any suspected infringer to CBP. And avoid buying counterfeit products by purchasing directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.

When shopping online, read seller reviews and find a US phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller.

Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeiting Awareness Guide for Consumers. And if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.


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