NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Norfolk seized over $700,000 in counterfeit designer brand name clothes, purses, shoes, and other items.
According to a press release, the CBP officers examined the shipment on Feb. 3 when it arrived from Seoul, South Korea, which was destined for an address in Chesapeake.
Officials say the shipment contained almost 70 items that have designer brand trademarks such as Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, and more.
CBP’s targeting team spotted the knock offs, said Mark Laria, the agency’s area port director for the Area Port of Norfolk-Newport News.
The targeting team is trained to detect counterfeit goods by looking at the shipment’s tracking location, errors on packaging, and the way products feel in their hands.
“Is there enough information there to make one shipment out of the ordinary for the same type of shipment? In this case, I can’t tell you the exact reasons why, but in this case they stood out,” Laria said.
Once officers believed the goods were counterfeit, the goods were detained and photographs were sent to CBP’s trade experts.
The experts verified on Mar. 6 that the goods were not authentic. Had they been authentic, manufacturers suggested that the goods were valued at $708,097.
No one has been criminally charged at this time and the investigation is ongoing.
Laria said spotting a knock off isn’t always easy, but counterfeits are typically sold at cheaper prices than the genuine product. If the sale on an high-end item looks too good to be true… it probably is.
“Be careful because the whole reason that we protect copyright and trademark goods is because we know those goods have gone through a process that the U.S. approves of,” he said.
Knock offs may be more affordable – but it comes at a price. Laria warned that some counterfeit goods are made by child and forced laborers. They can also contain materials and chemicals that are harmful.
“We don’t know if that handbag that you’re slinging over your shoulder has a chemical that might transfer. You’re going for your morning job, the shoe falls apart, you trip and you get endangered,” he said. “It’s all about the protection of American citizens.”