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  4. Laredo CBP, HSI officials advise Christmas gift shoppers to avoid counterfeit, dubious origin goods that pose consumer safety, U.S. economic security risks

Laredo CBP, HSI officials advise Christmas gift shoppers to avoid counterfeit, dubious origin goods that pose consumer safety, U.S. economic security risks

Release Date
Thu, 12/07/2023

LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations officials gathered at Laredo’s World Trade Bridge for an illustrative event to advise the public through local media this holiday season to avoid buying goods that may be counterfeit or of dubious origin that may pose consumer safety risks or undercut legitimate trademark holders.

“As gift buying starts to ramp up this holiday season, we would like to advise the public to avoid buying counterfeit goods or goods of unknown or dubious origin either online, from brick and mortar stores, flea markets or elsewhere,” said Port Director Albert Flores, Laredo Port of Entry. “CBP and HSI are working together as a trade enforcement force multiplier to identify, interdict, investigate and penalize or prosecute companies and individuals that would try to import and sell counterfeit goods, unsafe goods that may cause grave harm not only to the consumer but also to the licensed U.S. trademark holders and U.S. economic security.”

CBP import specialists and HSI special agents are flanked by a display table of previously seized counterfeit items during a Christmas holiday shopping safety outreach event hosted at Laredo's World Trade Bridge.
CBP import specialists and HSI special agents are flanked by a display table of previously seized counterfeit items during a Christmas holiday shopping safety outreach event hosted at Laredo's World Trade Bridge.

“Criminals don’t take the holidays off, so it’s important for consumers to be aware of ways they can protect themselves this busy season,” said Craig Larrabee, special agent in charge, HSI San Antonio. “The sale of counterfeit products deliver inferior and often dangerous goods into the economy, rob Americans of good-paying jobs and generate proceeds that are often funneled back into other criminal enterprises. HSI will continue to work with its enforcement partners to combat the distribution of counterfeit products. We want to remind consumers that when out buying items this holiday season if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

At an inspection dock at World Trade Bridge, CBP officers, import specialists and HSI special agents displayed and gave an overview on goods that had been detained, seized for violating U.S. intellectual and property rights law, U.S. consumer and product safety law. The items ranged from clothing to sneakers to electronics that did not have permission from licensed U.S. trademarks to be manufactured and imported or which claimed to adhere to U.S. consumer safety standards but which did not.

CBP data indicates handbags, wallets, apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry, and consumer electronics are at a higher risk of being counterfeited. Counterfeit versions of popular brands are regularly sold through online marketplaces and at flea markets. Not only are counterfeit goods produced in unregulated and potentially exploitative environments in foreign countries, but the profits from their sales provide a funding stream to organized crime.

Nationwide, CBP and HSI seized 20,812 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights in fiscal year 2022, which equates to nearly 25 million counterfeit goods. The total estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the seized goods, had they been genuine, was over $2.98 billion. In fiscal year 2022, HSI arrested 255 people, obtained 192 indictments and received 95 convictions related to intellectual property crimes.

CBP protects citizens from unsafe and substandard products by seizing merchandise infringing on trademarks and copyrights recorded with CBP through the e-Recordation program. CBP has established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers associated with the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods. Information about the Truth Behind Counterfeits public awareness campaign can be found on the The Truth Behind Counterfeits webpage.

Consumers can also take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:

  • Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
  • When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and an address so you can contact the seller.
  • Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers guide.
  • Remember if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. It violates trademark-holder rights, causes small businesses that purchase vendor licenses to sell official merchandise to lose revenue, and costs consumers their hard-earned money on substandard products and exposes them to financial schemes.

You may report intellectual property rights violations to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at https://www.iprcenter.gov/referral/ or 866-IPR-2060.

The IPR Center, working collaboratively with its 27 public and private sector partners, stands at the forefront of the United States government's response to combatting global intellectual property theft and enforcing intellectual properties rights violations. The IPR Center was established to combat global intellectual property theft and, accordingly, has a significant role policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.

These efforts protect U.S. industry, the U.S. consumer, and the safety of the American public from the adverse economic impact and health dangers posed from introducing counterfeit products into U.S. commerce. Intellectual property rights violations can be reported to the IPR Center.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

A close up view of seized counterfeit items displayed on a table during a joint CBP/HSI Christmas holiday shopping safety outreach event at Laredo's World Trade Bridge.
A close-up view of seized counterfeit items displayed on a table during a joint CBP/HSI Christmas holiday shopping safety outreach event at Laredo's World Trade Bridge.

 

Last Modified: Dec 22, 2023