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Fake goods create real problems during holiday shopping season

Customs and Border Protection seizes Ohio immigrant family's life savings at airport
Posted at 3:46 PM, Nov 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-27 11:49:38-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The holiday shopping season is here. But beware. There's a very real danger online and even some stores that you need to watch out for. Contact 13 with a warning about products the government is working hard to keep out of your hands.

In an unassuming building at an undisclosed location outside of Los Angeles, Contact 13 is given exclusive access to see some fakes that have been confiscated.

"The Jordan 1, Off-White Edition," says Officer Angel Villagrana with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.


He tells us there's one major problem with these Nike Jordan's. They're fake.

These particular knockoffs are really well made and recently seized along with nearly 15,000 other pairs, aboard a cargo ship from China claiming these boxes were full of napkins.

The estimated manufacturer's suggested retail price for all these bogus shoes is at least $2 million. The markup makes them even more valuable.

"In reality some of these shoes, their reselling value is a lot more. So we're looking at possibly over $5 million... This shoe right now, it's reselling on some websites for about $4,500 average price," says Officer Villagrana.


These fake Nike shoes are just the tip of the iceberg.

Take a look inside this warehouse, bigger than the size of three football fields. Everything you see here is a fake. Item after item seized by Customs, with help from Homeland Security.

"Whatever you can think of we're getting at the ports; wearing apparel, footwear, electronics, pharmaceuticals. Anything and everything," says Officer Villagrana.


He tells Contact 13, Customs is ceasing counterfeit goods like these batteries or toothpaste everyday.

In all, they're processing 77 thousand commercial shipments 7 days a week, using substantial resources to detect and intercept illegal goods before you spend your hard earned money. Specialists are brought in to confirm what's fake.

"After that, they will get destroyed," says Officer Villagrana.

So why aren't phony products like these shoes, donated? Why should you or I care?

"These counterfeiters don't care about your well being. There's harmful products inside these," says Officer Villagrana.


In many cases counterfeit goods are made in sweatshops, where people are forced to work under cruel conditions, using poor quality or illegal materials that could be dangerous. It's a message Customs and Border Protection are working hard to get out to the public:

"You're supporting organized crime when you buy counterfeit products and no one wants to promote organized crime on our streets. The money that is made by counterfeiting is used to launder drugs, weapons, a whole host of other illegal activities," says an online video produced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.


To make sure you aren't getting a bogus product, be sure to buy from a reputable source. Beware of third party vendors.

"You got to do your homework, a little bit more research," says Officer Villagrana.

This problem isn't going away as long as consumers continue buying counterfeit goods. While every seizure is a victory for Customs, Officer Villagrana admits there's no time to celebrate.

"That's what we do, every day we work hard and we look for the next one coming in," says Officer Villagrana.