Border Patrol Seizing Millions in Counterfeit Goods

( )- In the lead-up to the holiday season, Customs and Border Patrol agents have seized millions of dollars in counterfeit merchandise flooding the country at ports of entry nationwide. While the import of counterfeit products is a year-round problem, the Christmas shopping season always sees an increase.

Counterfeit products cost the global economy half a trillion dollars a year. And while some products are harmless, others are not. CBP reports counterfeit goods recently seized have included fake contact lenses and unsafe solar panels.

In Cincinnati, CBP seized nearly $500,000 in counterfeit contact lenses arriving from Japan and Hong Kong. Baltimore agents seized $250,000 in Chinese-made solar panels.

In one day, CBP seized $30 million in fake designer merchandise at one California port that arrived in a container ship from China. The items included fake designer handbags and clothing with fraudulent labels from Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton among others.

According to Los Angeles/Long Beach port director Donald Kusser, one of the reasons the sale of counterfeit goods is on the increase is online shopping. Buyers enticed by the lower prices online are purchasing goods sight unseen, unaware that they’re spending money on products of poor and sometimes unsafe quality.

Counterfeit products include makeup, perfumes, toys, clothing, electronics, machine parts, medical products, and pretty much everything else. And because they bypass regulations, the safety of the products has not been confirmed.

The Chinese-made solar panels seized in Baltimore had fraudulent certification markings and hadn’t been lab certified. Counterfeit solar panels tend to be constructed with substandard parts, including wiring, silicon, glass, and support framing. This substandard construction could result in low or no power generation, system failure, electrocution, or fire.

Counterfeit solar panels have fake warranties which disqualify consumers and businesses who purchase them from receiving solar power rebates and incentives.

From October 2020 to July 2021, Customs and Border Patrol made 22,849 seizures of counterfeit products worth $2.5 billion.