CINCINNATI—Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati seized a shipment containing a counterfeit watch. If the watch--which came from India--had been genuine, this single piece would have been worth over $3.78 million.
On November 16, officers seized the shipment containing a single Richard Mille watch. The shipment originated out of India and was headed to a residence in Palm Beach, Florida. Richard Mille brand offers limited quantity of each style, making each watch model unique. This watch seized was a RM 88 Automatic Winding Tourbillon Smiley. This limited edition was produced only 50 times making it extremely valuable. Black market sellers attempted to reproduce the look-alike Richard Mille RM 88 Smiley, but it takes one glimpse at the merchandise to know it’s a fake. The packaging, lack of fine details, its originating country and the fact that the shipment was uninsured all aided the officer’s determination that the merchandise was a counterfeit.
“CBP encourages honest trade and urges consumers to think twice before purchasing merchandise from unfamiliar online entities,” said Cincinnati Port Director Alrick Brooks. “Purchasing counterfeit goods enables criminal enterprises, and the profits made from these items fund their illicit activities. Officers at the Port of Cincinnati are dedicated to the CBP mission and work attentively for American consumers by stopping the flow of pirated merchandise.”
On November 17, officers seized a second shipment consisting of various counterfeit jewelry and watches with a total Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $846,695. The shipment originated in Hong Kong with a destination of Mesquite, Texas. The shipment consisted of brands including Rolex, Van Cleef, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton to name a few. CBP officers are trained to identify counterfeit merchandise and use their experience to stop the flow of such illicit merchandise in and out of the United States.
All of the counterfeit pieces were determined to be counterfeit by CBP’s Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEEs), the agency’s trade experts.
“One important job we have at CBP is to protect intellectual property rights for American consumers and businesses,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director of Chicago Field Operations. “With the holidays approaching, consumers need to be ever vigilant when shopping online. Not only is it our job at CBP to stop the flow of counterfeit merchandise, but it is also the job of each consumer. If you notice suspected fraud, please report it.”
There are few ways consumers can safeguard themselves from spending money on imitations:
- Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
- Know what price the product should be selling for. If the item is prices well below fair market value, it could possibly be counterfeit. If a price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Look for legitimate web sites that offer customer service contact information and return policies.
- Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.
More information about the harms associated with the purchase of counterfeit goods is available on CBP’s Truth Behind Counterfeits website and StopFakes.gov. If you have any information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, please contact CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violations Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT. IPR violations can also be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at https://www.iprcenter.gov/referral/ or by telephone at 1-866-IPR-2060.