This week, CBP reported that officers at the Port of Vicksburg/Jackson, Miss., recently seized more than $4,000 worth of counterfeit Nike Air Max, Nike Air Jordan and Balenciaga shoes imported from Hong Kong. This followed a similar, larger seizure in Los Angeles earlier this month in which federal authorities confiscated more than $2.2 million worth of counterfeit Nike sneakers.
CBP said the seizures in Mississippi occurred after officers discovered the shoes at an express consignment facility in four separate packages marked as “casual shoes” and destined for an address in the state. The shoes were confiscated for bearing the counterfeit trademarks.
“People often make the mistake of believing that purchasing counterfeit items are a victimless crime,” CBP Vicksburg/Jackson port director Michael Morris said. “However, these items often fund national and transnational criminal organizations, and cost taxpayers billions.”
A legitimate pair of Balenciaga shoes can potentially sell for $700 to $1,000 online, the agency noted, while Nike Air Jordan sneakers can range in price from $100 to $1,000. CBP said consumers shopping online, especially during the upcoming holiday season, are likely to eventually encounter fraudulent sellers and products .
“Counterfeit brand-name shoes is a multimillion-dollar criminal industry that preys on consumers looking for deals,” Morris said. “It’s best to keep in mind that if a product seems too good for the price, it may not be legitimate.”
In the Los Angeles case, CBP officers assigned to the Los Angeles-Long Beach Seaport, in coordination with import specialists assigned to the Apparel, Footwear and Textiles Center of Excellence (AFT Center), seized 14,806 pairs of fake Nike shoes.
CBP officers, in coordination with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations special agents assigned at the Trade Enforcement Coordination Center, discovered the shoes while conducting an enforcement exam on a shipment arriving from China. The shoes, which arrived in two containers, were “misdeclared” as “napkins” in an apparent attempt to disguise the illicit cargo.
AFT Center import specialists and the trademark owner confirmed that the shoes were in violation of Nike’s Air Jordan 1 Off-White, Air Jordan 12, Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 11 and Air Max ’97 protected designs and trademarks. These special-edition Nike and retro designs are highly coveted by collectors and sport shoe enthusiasts, CBP noted. A legitimate pair can potentially sell for between $1,500 to $2,000 online.
On an average day in 2018, CBP seized $3.7 million worth of products with intellectual property rights violations, including clothing, purses and electronics.