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Over 5,200 Fake Refrigerator Water Filters from China Seized by CBP at LA/Long Beach Seaport

Release Date: 
September 30, 2019

 The Water Filters infringed Brita, GE, Frigidaire, PUR and NSF Certification Protected Trademarks

LOS ANGELES— U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to the LA/Long Beach Seaport, in coordination with import specialists assigned to the Machinery Center of Excellence and Expertise (Machinery Center), seized 5,202 counterfeit refrigerator water filters. If genuine, the seized filters would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $224,202.  

Fake Water Filters
The filters infringed Brita, GE, Frigidaire,
PUR and NSF certification protected
trademarks

CBP officers discovered the filters while conducting an examination of a shipment arriving from China with a final destination in the state of Washington. The items were seized on July 2, after Machinery Center import specialists confirmed that the filters infringed Brita, GE, Frigidaire, PUR and NSF certification protected trademarks.

NSF International is an accredited, third-party certification body, which tests and evaluates products to public health and safety standards. Products certified by NSF have been tested, evaluated and determined to comply with specific standards, policies and procedures. The water filters seized contained counterfeit NSF certification markings printed on the products, and have not been evaluated, tested or certified by NSF.

Officer Holding Fake Water Filters
The filters contained counterfeit NSF
certification markings and have not been
evaluated, tested or certified by NSF

“Protecting our communities from untested and potentially harmful imports is paramount for CBP,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “The risk is the consumer inadvertently may be exposing their family to drinking water that is not up to industry standards.”

According to a study conducted by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), counterfeit refrigerator water filters pose a serious risk to consumer health and safety.  The use of fraudulently copied trademarks, branding and misleading claims make the filters look legitimate; and while the water may look, smell or taste fine, the counterfeit filters that were tested show that they fail to remove lead from water. Further, many of the filters tested introduced harmful chemicals into clean water. 

AHAM spokesperson Jill A. Notini stated, “It is incredibly difficult for consumers to spot counterfeit filters – and they are widespread online. We are grateful that CBP officers were able to stop this large shipment of counterfeit water filters from finding their way to online markets. 5,200 counterfeit filters equates to more than 33 million glasses of potentially unsafe water that could have been put into the hands of Americans across the country.”

Officer Inspecting a Fake Water Filter
CBP focuses on priority trade issues such as
intellectual property rights and health and
safety, in order to protect American ingenuity
and consumers from harmful products

“Counterfeit water filters have brands and logos that make them look authentic, so the public could be easily mislead, especially if the product is bought online,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP Port Director of LA/Long Beach Seaport. “We are advising consumers to protect their families by ensuring they are purchasing these products from legitimate sources only.”

CBP focuses on priority trade issues such as intellectual property rights and health and safety, in order to protect American ingenuity and consumers from harmful products.

Since October 1 2018 to date CBP at the LA/Long Beach Seaport has seized 169,490 counterfeit replacement refrigerator water filters, under sink ion exchange filters, pool and spa filters and water bottle filters with a combined MSRP of $8,440,764.

CBP officers in coordination with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents assigned at the Trade Enforcement Coordination Center (TECC) worked closely to identify potential violators responsible for the importations of these water filters.

Nationwide in fiscal year (FY) 2018, CBP seized 33,810 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights. The total estimated MSRP value of the seized goods, had they been genuine, increased to nearly $1.4 billion from over $1.2 billion in FY 2017. 

CBP has established an educational initiative at U.S. airports and online to raise consumer awareness and conscientiousness 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 is available at fakegoodsrealdangers

If you have any suspicion of or information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, please report the trade violation to e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT. 

Report intellectual property rights (IPR) violations to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at iprcenter referral or by telephone at 1-866-IPR-2060.

Learn about the risks of buying counterfeit water filters by visiting the Filter It Out campaign web site: filteritout.

To learn more about NSF certification visit nsf.org consumer resources.

Last modified: 
September 30, 2019