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Customs Nabs $95 Million in Fashion Fakes in Three-Month Louisville Haul

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville seized 164 shipments from Sept. 1 to Nov. 27 containing alleged counterfeit goods worth more than $95 million, a 75 percent increase from this same period last year.

Among the items that were confiscated were illegally labeled shoes, designer bags, jewelry and sunglasses that, if authentic, would have a manufacturer suggested retail price of $95.6 million, CBP said. This represented roughly $582,000 per shipment, and during this holiday season, the threat of proliferating counterfeit goods only intensifies, the agency noted.

During these seizures, CBP officers worked with its Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centers for Excellence and Expertise, the agency’s trade experts, to verify through the trademark holder that the products are indeed counterfeit.

CBP protects businesses and consumers through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement program. Importation of counterfeit merchandise can cause significant revenue loss and damage the U.S. economy.

“Driven by the rise in e-commerce, the market for counterfeit goods in the United States has shifted in recent years from one in which consumers often knowingly purchased counterfeits to one in which counterfeiters try to deceive consumers into buying goods they believe are authentic,” Thomas Mahn, Louisville port director, said.

“Oftentimes, the counterfeits are priced competitively just below a genuine product to avoid scrutiny by the consumer,” Mahn added. “The consumers are unaware that they’re buying a dangerous product as the counterfeit is just that good.”

The profits from counterfeiting sales have been linked to funding organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorist organizations. These counterfeits also threaten the health and safety of the American people, CBP said. On a typical day in 2018, CBP officers seized $3.7 million worth of products with IPR violations.

“These counterfeits are often compromised of toxic substances such as lead, methanol, antifreeze, urine, arsenic, mercury and cancer-causing substances,” Mahn continued. “Counterfeiters have no moral compass and will counterfeit just about anything to make a buck. We often encounter counterfeit makeup, perfumes, toys, clothing, electronics, machinery parts, basically anything in demand, we’ve seen it. The movement of these goods into online marketplaces pose a significant risk to the American consumer.”