Counterfeit products cost a serious amount of money. Here are the top 10 busts for counterfeit products in the world in value of the seizures.
10 Toys – $13.6 million
Customs have cracked down on many seizures for toys and games around the world. Counterfeit versions of popular games including Nintendo Game Boys, Legos, and other cartoon characters are part of knockoffs found during busts. An example is the $3 million bust in Toronto back in 2012; which the police had to use as an example to warn shoppers to be wary of their purchases. The bust revealed that the toys, most of which were manufactured in China, consisted of dangerous and unhygienic things including human hair and animal hair. Tests were conducted on the toys, which also further revealed a dangerous amount of bacteria, mold and mildew on the items, which eventually make their way to children’s mouths. Batteries sold with toys, or for toys, even showed that they were leaking chemicals, which posed a serious health hazard, warned Canadian police.
9 Labels and tags – $25 million
Seizures of counterfeit tags and labels amounted to $25 million in 2012, which was down by a significant 80% from 2011. In March of 2012, New Jersey officials busted two criminal rings who were responsible for distributing counterfeit goods, among them were knock off labels and tags, around the country. The labels were on their way to warehouses in various locations; to be put on various fashion items and accessories. Twenty-nine people were charged in the case, and most of them were Chinese.
8 Computers and accessories – $ 35 million
Sophisticated knock offs of almost every computer product and hardware imaginable has been counterfeited from China, alongside the actual product. The main difference is that these computer items don’t come with the same documents and warranties that real computers would, and neither is the packaging the same, which makes them easy to spot. Users need to be wary as these products will not last, or may not even work at all. Back in 2008, a two-year investigation in Ontario led to the bust of Cisco counterfeit products which were on the way to distribution in the United States. Inspectors warned that end users were unaware of the fake chips they were putting into their computers, causing health and safety concerns.
7 Optical media – $38 million
The value of knockoff optical media has increased by $3 million from 2011 to 2012, which investigators have said is largely due to the fact that the value of items seized has increased as well. Optical media includes CD’s or movies on DVD, usually which are traced back from China. One of the recent big busts occurred in Polk Country, Florida; where agents confiscated 8,000 DVD’s, which police warned could be traced back to terrorist groups which could have intentions of harming homeland security. Counterfeit criminal rings sell the DVD’s for as little as $1, encouraging civilians to make money from illegal practices as they are sold for $12 or more.
6 Pharmaceuticals and personal care – $83 million
In 2011, the total value of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs and personal care items was $142 million; which means that counterfeit drugs in 2012 reduced significantly, down to $83 million. China was responsible for $47 million worth of the counterfeit drugs coming into the United States, although India also has a large counterfeit industry. In May of 2012, federal agents seized more than $100 million of stolen goods including pharmaceutical drugs, liquor, cigarettes, and even mobile phones. Authorities say the heist was the largest crackdown in cargo theft in the history of the United States.
5 Footwear – $ 103 million
In 2012 alone, the federal government seized over $103 million worth of knock off footwear and fake designer dress shoes in over 1,900 busts around the country. A total of 10% from the total seizures in 2012 were all footwear, most of which came from China. In Chatham Country in 2011, agents seized over $500,000 worth of counterfeit goods including footwear from brands Nike, Coach, Louis Vuitton and many more.
4 Consumer electronics – $ 104.4 million
All electronics seized in 2012 amounted to 8% of all counterfeit products seized during the year, down 2% from the previous. More than $70 million of the goods originated from China, although authorities have said that there has been a rise in the manufacture of knock off tablets and smart phones in recent years. In February of 2012, police seized over $1 million worth of counterfeit goods from a seller in the streets of New York. The goods included fake Dr. Dre Beats headphones, iPhones, as well as iPads.
3 Clothing and accessories – $ 133 million
Counterfeit accessories and clothes made up the bulk of all 2012 seizures, which made up almost 30% of all busts. From all of these busts, more than $96 million counterfeit clothing came from China. In March of 2013, four people were charged with counterfeit clothing including shoes and accessories, amounting to over $750,000 worth of goods on their way to be sold at flea markets and kiosks.
2 Jewelry and watches – $187 million
The amount of jewelry and watches seized in 2012 increased from $173 million to $187 million. In February 2012, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized $1 million worth of fake jewelry from a vendor at a gem show which included goods with fake trademarks from Gucci, Coach, Tiffany & Co, and Chanel brands.
1 Handbags and Wallets - $511 million
The total amount of counterfeit handbags and accessories went up 147% in 2012, due to carefully planned interagency coordination. Out of the $511 million seized in 2012, $446 million of the fake items originated in China. Authentic looking handbags, purses, and wallets are common in Southeast Asia as well, in other countries including Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In December of 2012, feds cracked down on a counterfeit shipment in San Francisco worth $77 million alone that contained handbags as well as accessories, shoes, and watches.