HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - You may be able to buy counterfeit items cheaper from vendors online, but Custom and Border Protection officials say you could be putting yourself at risk.
News 3 spoke to the CBP about a recent case and the overall problem of counterfeit items.
In recent weeks, nearly 120,000 pairs of counterfeit diabetic socks were seized by CBP officials in Hampton Roads.
According to the CBP, the shipment initially arrived in a shipping container from Turkey on June 17 and was destined to an address in Loudoun County, Virginia. The shipment consisted of 579 boxes containing a combined 118,566 pairs of Hugh Ugoli-branded diabetic cotton socks.
The CBP said that if these socks were authentic, they would be worth $1.9 million.
However, the socks violate the Seal of Cotton trademark. Consumer goods bearing the Seal of Cotton trademark are certified to be manufactured according to stringent international manufacturing and safety standards.
“The sheer volume of this counterfeit diabetic sock shipment is alarming. Any level of substandard manufacturing, especially of these specialty socks, seriously endangers the health and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens who rely on them for comfort and blood circulation,” said Mark Laria, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Norfolk-Newport News. “Customs and Border Protection remains committed to intercepting counterfeit and potentially dangerous consumer goods, and we strongly encourage consumers to protect themselves and their families by purchasing goods only from reputable vendors.”
Chief Louis Rossero, a Customs and Border Protection officer, said, “Our Homeland Security Investigators are constantly following up on these cases to get those folks arrested, charged and hopefully convicted in these types of cases, so we can stop the proliferation of counterfeit goods being brought in the country.”
No one has been arrested in this case — but it’s just one of many cases.
According to the CBP, last year alone, $3.3 billion worth of counterfeit items were detected across the country — which equals out to about $9 million a day.
The CBP also said counterfeit goods can be dangerous to the public, take money away from trademark holders, steal tax revenues from the government and fund criminal organizations
Officials warn counterfeit electronics could cause fires, and medications and other products could put your health at risk or make you sick.
Additionally, items that are cheaply made can fall apart, not saving you any money.
“The only way for law enforcement to put a dent into that is to actually get the consumers to stop buying counterfeit stuff,” said Steve Sapp, the public affairs officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“If consumers think that they're getting a good deal and it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” Rossero said.
Consumers can report suspected counterfeits via CBP’s e-Allegations Online Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.