Look out for fake designer bags this holiday season: customs


U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found over 13,500 fake designer products on a cargo ship.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found 13,586 counterfeit designer products on a cargo ship that arrived at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport from China, according to a news release from the agency.

That shipment included fake handbags, shoulder bags, tote bags, backpacks, crossbody bags, shirts and pants with branding from Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, the release said.

If the same amount of merchandise were genuine, it may have been worth around $30,437,775. Counterfeit products can end up being sold on illegitimate websites and in “underground outlets,” the release said.

“Bad actors exploit e-commerce operations by selling counterfeit and unsafe goods through online platforms, particularly during the holiday season when shoppers are looking for deals,” Donald R. Kusser, port director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, said in the release.

Kusser warned shoppers that “if the price of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is.” He added that poor quality goods might even be made with unsafe materials, according to the release.

Counterfeit goods may also be made with poor stitching, low-quality materials, improperly sized logos, fragile fabrics, and printing errors on products, the release said.

CBP recommends several tips to avoid buying a counterfeit product. The agency said customers should buy things from authorized retailers, read seller reviews and check for a U.S. phone number or email that can be used to contact the seller, and be wary of prices that seem unbelievable. The agency also has a guide on counterfeit awareness for consumers.

The guide warns that fake goods can have a negative impact on the economy and even have legal implications.

This story was originally published December 2, 2021 7:00 PM.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Real-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Arizona PBS.

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