INDIANAPOLIS— As Valentine’s Day approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) warns consumers to make sure they’re getting their loved ones the real deal instead of knock-off goods. From January 26-31, CBP officers in Indianapolis seized three shipments containing a total of 207 pieces of counterfeit designer merchandise. If the items—which all originated in the Philippines—had been genuine, it would have been worth a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $264,285.
On January 26, CBP officers detained two shipments heading to a residence in Pennsylvania. Officers inspected the parcels to determine the admissibility of its contents in accordance with CBP regulations. In the first parcel, officers discovered 84 counterfeit Chanel, Burberry, Dior, Gucci, Hermes and Louis Vuitton apparel and handbags with a MSRP of $73,565 if they were real. Officers found 64 more counterfeit items in the second package containing Balenciaga, Chanel, Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton coats, sweaters, blankets, purses, and keychains. Had these items been real, the MSRP would have been $99,150.
Just five days later, on January 31, officers once again intercepted a package arriving from the Philippines headed to a residence in New York. This time officers found 64 counterfeit Burberry, Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton outerwear, wallets, sleeves, sunglasses, and clothes. Had these items been real the MSRP would have been $91,570.
“This is just another example of the work our officers do that protects consumers and the U.S. economy,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago Field Office. “As consumers increasingly purchase merchandise from online or third-party vendors, our officers are at the frontline to guard against violative individuals and entities expecting to make money by selling fake merchandise.”
CBP officers are trained to pay close attention to details like item and packaging markings, quality, and origin of the shipment to determine if a shipment is authentic or not when it comes to IPR shipments. In this case, some of the shipment was not authentic, therefore those items were seized. Officers in Indianapolis see a multitude of counterfeit merchandise to include counterfeit NFL championship rings, Rolex watches, and Apple electronics. During the last fiscal year, The Port of Indianapolis seized 7,901 counterfeits that would have been worth a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) more than $115.5 million, had they been real.
“CBP protects the rights holder and the consumer from counterfeit goods,” said Indianapolis Port Director Jeremy Brodsky. “Counterfeit goods have a negative effect on businesses and the price of authentic goods for the consumer. Our officers do a very good job at stopping the flow of illegitimate shipments entering and exiting the United States.”
Recognize the red flags to look for when shopping for loved ones on Valentine’s Day this year by:
- Purchasing goods directly from the trademark holder, original manufacturer, or from authorized retailers.
- Educating yourself on current prices of the item you are shopping for. If the item is priced well below fair market value, the likelihood is higher that the merchandise being considered for purchase is counterfeit. If a price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Staying away from web sites that do not offer customer service contact information, return policies, and legitimate phone numbers.
- Reviewing CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers for more detailed information.
CBP has established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers that are often associated with the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods. Information about the Truth Behind Counterfeits public awareness campaign can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/FakeGoodsRealDangers.
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.