HEBRON, Ky. — As we head into the holiday shopping season, we’re all on the hunt for a bargain.
But a recent meltdown at Cincinnati International Airport in northern Kentucky shows how you could end up buying shoddy counterfeits and possibly dangerous counterfeit products.
WCPO cameras have been allowed inside CVG customs offices to take a look at some of the thousands of counterfeit items seized in recent weeks at CVG, before they are removed for disposal.
The seizures resulted in the seizure of counterfeit Apple and Samsung products, Nike and Adidas sports shoes, fake Cartier and Gucci jewelry and all kinds of designer accessories, enough to make a Kardashian blush.
U.S. Customers and Border Protection Division Chief Eric Zizelman said the shipment included dozens of major brands.
“We found purses, purses and wallets,” he said, “claiming to be from Louis Vuitton, Coach, etc.”
On a single table we inspected, there were tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, even World Series and Super Bowl rings, which could fetch $5,000 each online.
“It’s a New York Yankees ring,” he said.
But everything is wrong.
Customs won’t say where the flights originated or where the goods were headed, but say their recent transport would have been worth $8 million if it had been real.
The risk of buying counterfeit products
Zizelman says shoppers who might have purchased these products at flea markets or online would have ended up disappointed, thinking they were getting the real product at a steep discount.
“You won’t get the same quality product as if you were buying a genuine product,” he said, showing us designer handbags with shoddy leather and cheap plastic zippers. .
He says counterfeit electronics often fail in no time, have terrible sound quality, or are dangerous,
“You might have some sort of security risk with that,” he said.
That’s what happened to Katie Skerchock of Cincinnati who, a few years ago, unknowingly purchased a counterfeit iPhone charger that almost set her house on fire.
“It’s a fire hazard, I mean who knows,” she told us, showing us pictures of burn marks on her wall.
Could you spot a counterfeit?
Sometimes it’s easy to spot a counterfeit product, like with seized Apple AirPods that don’t have an Apple logo on the box, and just say “Air 2.”
Or counterfeit Nike basketball shoes with bad stitching and little padding inside.
Other times it’s much more difficult, like with Samsung headphones seized by customs that have all the correct logos.
Zizelman says counterfeits often come by shipping in generic boxes or labeled boxes with another product on the outside.
He showed us unnamed boxes of headphones, but when you open them, you find products labeled Samsung Galaxy inside.
To protect himself, he says:
- Beware of designer items online and at flea markets at prices that seem too low.
- Check an online seller’s reviews carefully: reviewers will often post that they bought something that might be fake.
- With garments and handbags, plaid stitching, zippers and fabric/leather quality.
- Check the return policy, in case the item arrives and you suspect it is counterfeit.
Bottom Line: If an item seems overpriced for what you’re buying, beware: it may be a fake, so don’t waste your money.
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