Feds seize more than $30M in fake designer products, warn holiday shoppers to remain vigilant

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers recently intercepted more than $30 million in counterfeit goods at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport.

“CBP commits substantial law enforcement resources to keep counterfeit and pirated goods out of U.S. supply chains, markets, and streets,” Carlos C. Martel, Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles, stated in a news release.

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Specifically, officers intercepted 13,586 counterfeit designer products that arrived Nov. 9 in a containerized cargo shipment from China. The counterfeit goods included handbags, tote bags, shoulder bags, crossbody bags, backpacks, shirts and pants, each bearing numerous registered and recorded trademarks, such as Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, YSL and Louis Vuitton.

“Now more than ever, CBP officers remain vigilant, committed and focused on disrupting these smuggling operations,” Martel added.

If genuine, the seized merchandise would have a combined estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $30,437,775, the agency stated.

Donald R. Kusser, port director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, blamed “bad actors” for exploiting e-commerce platforms, especially during the holiday season.

“If the price of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeit goods are often of poor quality and can even be unsafe for you and your family,” Kusser stated.

In order to protect themselves, the CBP offered consumers the following tips to avoid being duped by knock-off merchandise:

  • Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
  • When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller.
  • Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.
  • Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Meanwhile, consumers can typically spot counterfeit merchandise by inspecting it closely for inferior quality that may include poor or uneven stitching, fragile fabrics and improperly sized or designed logos. Peeling labels, low-quality ink or printing errors on the packaging are also signs that products may not be legitimate, the agency stated.

According to the news release, CBP personnel seized 26,503 shipments nationwide worth nearly $1.3 billion in counterfeit items, had they been genuine in fiscal year 2020.