- In April, US Customs seized 460 fake Rolexes headed for a Brooklyn address.
- Last year, US Customs seized 27,107 shipments of pirated goods worth more than $3.3 billion.
- Most of these shipments come from China, the world’s largest producer of counterfeit products.
In April, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Indianapolis seized 460 fake Rolex watches that had been imported from Hong Kong.
The shipment was addressed to a residence in Brooklyn, according to a statement issued by CBP on May 2. The Rolex watches would have been worth $10.1 million if they had been real. Officers selected the shipment because they recognized the details of the sender, who has a history of fraudulent activity, CBP said.
CBP said it will turn over the investigations to Homeland Security and inform authorities in the sender’s country of the seizure. Steven Bansbach, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs, told Insider that counterfeiters are difficult to track down and prosecute, even if they have been identified.
CBP regularly seizes counterfeit luxury items. In 2021, it seized 27,107 shipments of pirated products that would have been worth more than $3.3 billion if the products were genuine, Bansbach said. The total number of counterfeit products seized annually increased by 152% in 2021.
Watches and jewelry were the top items seized by value in 2021, amounting to $1.18 billion, Bansbach said. Purses and purses ranked second, with the estimated value of seized shipments exceeding $972 million. Most of these shipments come from China, the world’s largest producer of counterfeit products.
The rise of e-commerce has made it increasingly difficult to clamp down on the trade in counterfeit goods, as merchants do not face a strict vetting process when setting up an online store.
To clean up its reputation as a producer of high-quality counterfeit products, China passed a law in 2019 that holds e-commerce operators liable if merchants sell imitation products on their platforms, facing fines of up to 2 million yuan (290,000 USD) if you don’t remove disreputable traders when notified by authorities.
However, the heightened scrutiny of counterfeit production in China has not deterred copycat makers.
“Better quality components are sometimes found in copies than originals, when brands source themselves from China,” Thierry Dubois, CEO of the Selective Trademark Union, told Europa Star in January 2020. Selective Trademark Union is an organization that protects the interests of luxury brands. and cooperates with local authorities on field investigations to flag counterfeit products.
As a result, younger generations in China are buying the latest editions in stores to avoid accidentally buying fakes, Nicole Li, a China-based luxury brand marketer, told Insider. “We also tend to follow specific brands, and it’s easy for us to tell if it’s a fake,” Li said.
China also offers master classes where students learn how to spot fake luxury goods. In the case of Chanel, the lining of its black bags must be pink, and two alphabets on the brand’s authenticity cards will illuminate under a special ultraviolet light. Certain letters in the Chanel logo also use a rectangular font instead of a square font, according to the South China Morning Post.