The first two weeks of May kept U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers busy as they confiscated over $3.1 million in counterfeit goods ahead of Mother’s Day.
On May 8, CBP officers in Louisville seized three shipments of luxury goods—ranging from Rolex watches and Van Cleef & Arpels necklaces to Louis Vuitton purses and Chanel earrings—deemed inauthentic by CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 3,000-plus counterfeits amounted to $3.1 million.
“These types of seizures happen every night. Our officers are very well trained and vigilant in stopping these illegal shipments from reaching their destinations,” LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director, field operations-Chicago field office, said. “Whether it is intellectual property right violations, narcotics, unapproved items or counterfeit products, our officers will continue to protect our local communities and our ports of entry.”
The first shipment inspected contained 1,438 counterfeit Van Cleef & Arpels necklaces originating from Hong Kong en route to a residence in Miami and were worth $2.18 million had they been genuine. The second package, also from Hong Kong, was heading to an Ontario, Canada, home with 10 fake Rolex watches amounting to $102,500. The final parcel from Hong Kong was bound for a P.O. box in Laredo, Texas, containing 14 fake Louis Vuitton purses and over 1,400 pairs of earrings with inauthentic logos from Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Versace, Tous, Tory Burch and Disney. Another 200 counterfeit necklaces bore the marks of Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton for a $812,510 MRSP had the goods been authentic.
“This is just another example of the work our officers do to protect consumers and the U.S. economy,” Thomas Mahn, port director, Louisville, said. “As consumers increasingly purchase from online or third-party vendors, our officers are at the frontline to guard against defrauders expecting to make money selling fake merchandise.”
Officers at the Lewiston Bridge Port of Entry in New York on May 11 seized nearly $15,000 in counterfeit bags.
“As we approach[ed] Mother’s Day, our officers continue to do an amazing job targeting shipments and identifying violations,” Gaetano Cordone, Buffalo port director, said. “CBP plays a vital role in protecting consumers and businesses from imported fraudulent items. These products have economic impacts, legal implications and can post a risk to the health and safety of the American people.”
CBP cites the rapid growth of e-commerce for the rise in counterfeits, which has ballooned from a $30 billion problem in the 1980s to more than $600 billion, with trends predicting this number will soon hit the trillions, according to North Carolina State University research. While online shopping gives consumers convenient access to whatever they design, it also facilitates the flow of pirated products onto U.S. shares. Consumers in the U.S. spend over $100 billion annually on goods that infringe on intellectual property rights (IPR), “falling victim” to roughly 20 percent of counterfeits illegally sold worldwide.