Just in time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday shopping madness, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are warning shoppers about counterfeit goods and how consumers can protect themselves from “Knock-offs” of brand-name items.
“CBP’s primary mission is to protect our nation and its citizens. This includes protecting consumers from unsafe goods. We do this by partnering with industry, HSI, other federal agencies and foreign governments to fight cross-border trade in these harmful and dangerous illicit goods,” said Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Office. “It is important to shop from reputable sources. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
“Consumers who purchase ‘knock-off’ or imitation items may be surprised to know the sale of these items actually contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to fuel a black market economy run by criminal networks who are also responsible for the smuggling and distribution of narcotics, and other illicit activity.” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh. “We want to also remind the public that COVID-19 vaccines will not be available outside the designated distribution network; however these criminal organizations will try to sell you otherwise, and also continue to pray on our vulnerability by selling counterfeit COVID-19 test kits and false solutions. Please continue your vigilance and we will continue our work with our industry partners and CBP to protect and ensure your safety.”
CBP seizes a wide variety of counterfeit products from all over the world every year. In FY 2019, CBP seized over 27,000 shipments of counterfeit goods worth over $1.5 billion, had the goods been genuine.
CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement program, and IPR enforcement is a CBP Priority Trade Issue.
The theft of intellectual property and the trade in substandard and often dangerous goods threaten America’s innovation economy and consumer health and safety, and generates proceeds that fund criminal activities and organized crime. CBP has established the Truth Behind Counterfeits educational campaign to raise consumer awareness about the health and safety, legal, and economic consequences of purchasing counterfeit and pirated goods. For more information, visit www.cbp.gov/fakegoodsrealdangers.
Anyone with information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, is urged to contact the CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or call 1-800-BE-ALERT. IPR violations can also be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at iprcenter.gov/referral/ or call 1-866-IPR-2060.