Federal officials are warning international passengers to refrain from purchasing counterfeit goods while traveling abroad, as the fake products may potentially have health risks and fund criminal enterprises.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that, in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agents seized 34,143 shipments of goods that violated intellectual property rights for fiscal year 2017. That’s an 8 percent increase over fiscal year 2016.
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The total estimated manufacturers’ suggested retail price of the counterfeit goods would have been more than $1.2 billion had the products been genuine.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection warns that counterfeit products can pose health and safety issues. As the agency puts it, “Counterfeiters don’t care about your well-being. They just want to make a profit.” The top three categories of counterfeit items that may pose health and safety risks were personal care, pharmaceuticals and consumer electronics.
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The top products seized by the agency are apparel and accessories (20 percent of counterfeit products recovered), consumer electronics (16 percent), footwear (12 percent), watches and jewelry (11 percent), and handbags and wallets (10 percent).
Agents also want to remind people that it’s illegal to purchase counterfeit goods. “Bringing (counterfeit goods) into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a release. “Purchasing counterfeit goods supports criminal activities such as money laundering and trafficking in illegal guns and drugs. Remember, if it seems like a steal, it is.”
Will Axford is a digital reporter for Chron.com. Read more of his stories here and follow him on Twitter.