U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a big counterfeit win this week, seizing $4.3 million worth of fake Salvatore Ferragamo shoes at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach. According to the customs office, the 7,800 shoes originated from China and were confiscated on July 20.
Not surprisingly counterfeit goods are a big problem just not for luxury brands, but also names such as Nike and Adidas.
Last year, around $1.35 billion worth of counterfeit goods were taken by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Romania and Turkey as top sources of bogus items. China represented more than half of all counterfeit seizures. The customs office said it was a 37 percent increase in fake goods seized compared to the previous year.
Ferragamo has been a major name in the luxury industry fighting for more counterfeit awareness and protections. In March, the Italian luxury company made headlines for announcing it had intercepted over 91,000 knockoffs and shut down 140 domain names selling counterfeits in 2015.
According to Jaime Ruiz, the branch chief for the Northern/Coastal division of the customs office, this bust is just a piece of the pie illustrating the scope of the problem. He emphasized that counterfeits aren’t just damaging to luxury brands intellectual property, but a major source of funding criminal organizations and could be dangerous for your health, since the chemicals in knockoffs aren’t regulated.
He also emphasized that many counterfeit goods are produced in factories that use child labor and unsafe working conditions.
Consumers are also left with very little protection should they purchase a counterfeit. Ruiz said there are a few ways consumers can protect themselves. Here’s what to know:
- Price: “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is,” he said. “You’re paying a premium for high fashion for a reason.”
- Where You Buy: If you’re buying from a website, Ruiz said to be especially careful and make sure it is a reputable retailer. Even better? Go directly to the brand to buy.
- Packaging: “This is the big indicator, too. Counterfeiters don’t invest in packaging and presentation,” he said. Look for cheap boxes without the traditional markings of a luxury brand.