MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Customs officers are working to stop huge quantities of counterfeit products from ending up in your holiday shopping cart.
The National Retail Federation says Saturday was the biggest day of the holiday season, with an estimated 156 million shoppers. Counterfeiters are looking to cash in.
The front line in the battle against counterfeit goods starts with Customs officers. They seized shipping containers from China loaded with thousands of pairs of what looked like designer Ugg boots but they weren’t.
“It’s not labeled Uggs on the outer box,” said Officer Gabriel Richardson with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Last year seizures jumped by 25 percent. Almost half came from mainland China and 34% from Hong Kong.
Clothing, electronics, shoes, jewelry, watches and purses are counterfeiters’ favorites this time of year and so are toys.
“Whatever’s popular this season, that’s what they’re going to try to get in,” said Officer Rutledge.
There were fake North Face and sports jerseys and another favorite of counterfeiters was Louis Vuitton bags.
Officers say there’s so much money in counterfeit goods, they compare it to drug trafficking.
The street value of that seized cargo container of fake Uggs is likely in the millions. It’s money that’s been linked to funding terrorist and criminal organizations.
Over the past decade, Interpol has traced the profits from fake merchandise back to several terror groups including Al-Qaeda.
So far this year, Customs has seized more than a billion dollars of counterfeits and that’s just in the New York area alone.