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CPB Nabs $700,000 in Fake Burberry, Chanel, Gucci Goods

Officials seized more than $700,000 worth of fake fashion ripping off high-end names like Burberry, Chanel, Christian Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent in a counterfeit luxury bust at the Port of Norfolk, Va. on March 16.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized counterfeit apparel, purses, scarves, sneakers and other items.

CBP officers initially examined the shipment on Feb. 3, which had arrived from Seoul, South Korea, and was headed for a Virginia address in the town of Chesapeake. The shipment consisted of 68 items bearing the counterfeit designer brand trademarks.

The officers suspected that the consumer goods were counterfeit and detained them to verify authenticity, before submitting documentation and photographs to CBP’s trade experts at the Apparel, Footwear and Textiles Centers of Excellence and Expertise.

On March 6, the experts verified that the consumer goods were not authentic and that they bore infringing trademarks and copyrights that had been recorded with CBP through its e-Recordation program. The e-Recordation program is designed specifically so that intellectual property right (IPR) owners—in this case, brands like Burberry, Gucci or Louis Vuitton—can partner with CBP to receive border enforcement of their registered trademarks and copyrights.

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The counterfeit consumer goods were valued at an estimated $708,097 manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), had they been authentic.

No one has been criminally charged, the CBP said. The organization is continuing its investigation.

“Unscrupulous vendors illegally profit on the backs, and feet, of American consumers by peddling phony and potentially perilous products as authentic goods,” said Mark Laria, CBP’s area port director for the Area Port of Norfolk-Newport News, in a statement. “CBP strongly encourages consumers to protect their families by purchasing authentic goods from reputable vendors.”

CBP hit the port for counterfeit apparel last summer, seizing nearly 120,000 pairs of counterfeit cotton socks that would have had an MSRP of $1.9 million if they were authentic. The shipment consisted of 579 boxes containing a combined 118,566 pairs of Hugh Ugoli-branded diabetic cotton socks. Then, the agency’s trade experts determined that the goods were counterfeit due to their violation of the “Seal of Cotton” trademark, which is owned and licensed exclusively by Cotton Incorporated.

During 2022, CBP officers and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents seized more than 20,812 shipments containing goods that violated IPR, equating to nearly 25 million counterfeit goods. The total estimated MSPR of the seized goods, had they been genuine, was over $2.98 billion, or an average of over $8 million every day.

Handbags and wallets topped the list with 31,035 seizures, representing 30.3 percent of all IPR busts. However, watches and jewelry were the top products seized in terms of total MSRP value with seizures valued at over $1.14 billion, representing 38.5 percent of the total. Handbags/wallets came in second with seizures estimated to be valued at over $993 million, corresponding to 33.3 percent of the total value of goods seized due to IPR violations.

Additionally, HSI special agents arrested 255 individuals in 2022, obtained 192 indictments, and received 95 convictions related to intellectual property crimes.

One such significant event for the agency came in May, when the CBP seized more than $500,000 in counterfeit goods from one individual at Washington Dulles International Airport who flew in from Thailand. This marked the CBP’s largest counterfeit haul in passenger baggage in 2022.

Upon inspection, CBP officers detained 298 items including clothing, scarves, hats shoes, and jewelry bearing designer brand names including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, Prada and Versace.

The CBP has been especially busy since the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) went into effect last June. From June 21 to March 3, CBP detained 631 shipments containing apparel, footwear and textiles valued at more than $29.5 million for scrutiny under UFLPA.

Of the shipments detained, 261 (41 percent of total shipments) were denied, and 136 (22 percent of total shipments) were released. Another 234 were still pending, according to the agency’s UFLPA dashboard. Of the $29.5 million in goods, $13.45 million came from China while $13.3 million came from Vietnam, where manufactured goods using Xinjiang-based inputs are becoming increasingly common.

The CBP is trying to expand its coverage of shipments by teaming up with more private businesses and actors that operate in the supply chain.

The agency is expanding its Section 321 Data Pilot, a program designed to better identify and target high-risk shipments for inspection. Nine companies have participated in the pilot since 2019, including Amazon, eBay, FedEx, DHL, UPS, Zulily, customs compliance firm PreClear and logistics providers XB Fulfillment and BoxC Logistics. But in February, the CBP said it was inviting new volunteers into the program.

Additionally, the agency revealed it will be collaborating with a dozen partner agencies to pilot the Global Business Identifier Evaluative Proof of Concept program, designed to create a “common language” between government and industry, pinpoint high-risk shipments and facilitate legitimate trade.