The flood of counterfeit goods coming into this country continues to grow and North Carolina is one of the leading states trying to combat the tide of fake goods.
The state has a large task force devoted to keeping fake merchandise from getting into the hands of consumers.
Buying counterfeit items is not a victimless crime.
Your local community is hurt because it doesn’t get the sales tax revenue needed help fund education.
Manufacturers lose sales which can cost employees jobs and the money you spend on fake items could be going to support criminals or even terrorists.
“Organized crime is involved all the way from the manufacture to the distribution,” said North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
Marshall is the point person in trying to keep these fakes from reaching your hands.
Marshall’s office has a task force of more than 110 law enforcement officers who find knock-off items for sale everywhere.
She recently showed CBS 17 consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia a variety of items her office seized that are fakes including what was supposed to be a Louis Vuitton handbag.
“This is obviously fake,” she told Sbraccia. “If you feel it, you can see the glue is coming out. And, the (poor quality) of the handles are a giveaway.”
And it’s not just handbags or athletic shoes. Virtually everything we use on a day-to-day basis is being counterfeited now.
“A lot come in by air – some come by truck,” said Marshall.
And where do these fake goods originate?
A recent tracking report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found China and Hong Kong are responsible for more almost 85 percent of counterfeit goods followed by:
- Turkey 3.3%
- Singapore 1.9%
- Thailand 1.6%
- India 1.2%
Marshall says Urban Decay cosmetics are widely counterfeited and have been confiscated extensively by her agents.
To show how bad the problem is with that brand, a recent sting by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found out of 13 purchases by that agency—every single one was counterfeit.
And fakes like that dangerous.
“We have cosmetics and perfumes that contain bacteria. People develop rashes or ingest that into their lungs,” said Marshall.
Marshall says one way to avoid buying counterfeits is to watch where you buy things. As an example, she showed Sbraccia a box of supposed “prescription” contact lenses that were purchased by her agents.
“It says prescription on it. These were acquired at an appliance store that had a side operation selling clothing and things like this,” she said.
She says her task force has made 621 counterfeit product cases this year and says—it shows no signs of letting up.
‘’In the last year, we confiscated goods worth over $55 million at regular retail,” she said.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency also deals with many fake products shipped in from overseas and offer this guide to the top counterfeit products seized and offers a way to report them in this link.