Customs officials warn shoppers to beware of knockoffs


Customs officials are warning online shoppers to watch out for knockoff items this year when they search for their last-minute holiday gifts online.

In 2021, officials with U.S. Customs and Border Control and the Department of Homeland Security seized 25 million counterfeit items, officials said at a press conference on Thursday at JFK Airport. If they had been real, they would have been worth $3 billion on the street, officials said.

Since e-commerce has become even more popular during the pandemic, officials say that there are even more counterfeits flooding the market this year, including knockoffs of one-of-a-kind items like a 2018 World Cup Champions trophy.

Sal Ingrassia, the airport’s port director for the customs department, said New Yorkers need to be smart when it comes to figuring out what is real and what is not.

“If it looks to be a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

He said shoppers should avoid suspicious online retailers, since they often deal in knockoffs. Such retailers can expose consumers to theft, and can have ties to other criminal activities like smuggling, forced labor, money laundering and terrorist organizations, Ingrassia said.


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