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US Customs reports 175% spike in counterfeit goods seizures

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US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) San Juan Field Office — which is responsible for multiple ports of entry in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands — experienced a 175% growth in the number of counterfeit seizures in Fiscal 2021 to date in contrast to the same period in Fiscal 2020.

In Fiscal 2020, the CBP San Juan Field Office seized 2,443 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights, which had an overall estimated street value of $46 million.

The CBP seized 26,503 shipments nationwide, with goods valued — had they been genuine — at nearly $1.3 billion, the agency confirmed.

Amidst the pandemic, a recent fiscal year comparison revealed that CBP officers and import specialists have witnessed significant statistical increases in the seizures of products that violate intellectual property rights, the agency confirmed.

“Brand products that are incredibly cheap online might not be the real deal,” said Leida Colon, assistant director of Field Operations in Puerto Rico and the USVI.

“If the price of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is; and that can cause real problems to you, your family, and legitimate businesses,” she said.

Every year, CBP seizes millions of counterfeit goods from countries around the world as part of its mission to protect U.S. businesses and consumers. These goods include fake versions of popular products such as smartphones and related accessories, electronics, apparel, shoes, cosmetics, and high-end luxury goods.

The agency urges consumers to purchase goods only from reputable retailers and be wary of third party vendors. Check seller reviews, verify that there is a working phone number, and address for the seller, in case there are questions about the legitimacy of a product, it said.

To detect and deter imports of counterfeit products, Puerto Rico created the San Juan Trade Enforcement Team in 2016, Since then, the group has seized 1,064,098 items with an estimated value of $163.4 million.  The top ten categories of items seized during FY-2020 are: Purses/wallet; jewelry; footwear; electronics; alcoholic beverages; watches; clothing; other counterfeit goods; cigarettes; and prescription drugs.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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