Federal law enforcement warning shoppers about online holiday buying; more than 4,600 counterfeit karaoke machines seized


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Federal law enforcement officers and Amazon are teaming up to crack down on counterfeit products imported during the holiday shopping season.

Last month, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) announced a partnership with Amazon to stop counterfit products from entering the country.

Jim Stitzel, who is the assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk, says they start to see more of these products this time of the year.

“Traditionally over the holidays, importation of counterfit goods goes way up. When you consider it’s a pandemic, more folks are shopping more and more online. That contributes to it,” he said.

Importing these items doesn’t just affect the economy.

Stitzel says it’s also a health and safety issue for families.

“Intellectual property rights is not just hurting the folks making the products, they’re real health and safety concerns with these,” he said. “Counterfeit products out there, whether it’s an electronic device that catches fire, medicine that hurts you, or an airbag that doesn’t deploy, or perfume that irritates your skin, there are real safety concerns at play here.”

10 On Your Side met Stitzel and Louis Rossero, a chief customs and border protection officer, at the Customs and Border Protection Examination Warehouse in Chesapeake to look at thousands of counterfeit karaoke machines.

The machines originated in China and were on their way to Amazon.

Rossero says it’s the third shipment they’ve gotten in month. This one had more than 4,600 machines.

Officers can usually tell if they’re counterfeit due to spelling, printing, and logo mistakes, according to Rossero.

He says they were notified about the machines due to copyrighted images that were used.

“They have counterfeit SanDisk and USB logos on them, which are intellectually protected,” Rossero said.

Rossero says it’s a busy time of the year for them, but things start to pick up in the summer ahead of the holiday season.

Other counterfeit items they’ve had issues within the past are hoverboards. He says there are a number of other products they come across.

To make sure you’re not buying counterfeit products, Rossero says it’s important to do some research before you buy items online.

“Be careful where you’re buying from. Buy from reputable places. If the price is too good, probably means there’s something wrong with it. Make sure you read the reviews and do your due diligence when shopping online,” he said.

To learn more about Operation Fulfilled Action, click here.

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