US: ‘Operation Holiday Hoax’ Targets Counterfeit Shipments

US border officials confiscated hundreds of parcels last week as part of an international crackdown on the trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods, officials from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Friday.

The yearly surge in enforcement takes advantage of heavy holiday traffic in order to root out contraband from the high volume of shipments.  Officers interdicted a wide variety of suspected counterfeit merchandise, including headphones, sports jerseys and cell phone accessories, which the agency will permanently seize once it determines that they are in fact counterfeit.

CBP officials said Friday that trends show counterfeit goods are increasingly coming into the United States in smaller parcels, instead of in large shipments made through cargo facilities. Authorities attribute that trend in part to increased sales traffic over the Internet; Americans bought more $35.3 billion worth of merchandise online so far this holiday season, up 15 percent from last year, according to a report from MSNBC.

“We’re endeavoring to protect not only the companies that make copyrighted products, but also unwitting buyers who get fleeced by these fakes,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles in the CPB statement. “Consumers order merchandise on line believing they’re getting the genuine article, only to receive a shoddy and sometimes dangerous counterfeit version.”

CBP worked with agents from the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security team on the monthlong sweep, which is in its third year and will last until Dec. 26.  Last year, the operation led to the seizure of more than 327,000 counterfeit and pirated items nationwide with an estimated value based upon the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, of nearly $77 million, according to the CBP's Friday announcement.