US Customs warning of counterfeit goods flowing into Chicago

U.S. Customs issued a warning about millions of dollars of fake merchandise flowing into Chicago.

Customs and Border Protection agents held a show-and-tell Tuesday showcasing some of the nearly $8 million in counterfeit merchandise seized at Chicago entry points — like O’Hare.

Everything from high-end handbags to watches, to clothing and jewelry — even stamps — all of it fake.

There is also a big market in phony electronics. 

Agents showed Christmas lights that say they were approved by Underwriters Labs, but just swiped the UL logo.

"These again are your Underwriters Labs violations," said Customs and Border Protection Director Eric Everson. "They’re not made at the same standards, and there’s a very good chance of a fire hazard."

Officers say a lot of the merchandise is manufactured in China, but sent from other parts of the world in order to try to sneak it past customs. 

It’s often purchased online via websites like eBay. 

While it may appear to be a victimless crime, agents say counterfeiting costs the United States both jobs and money.


"The theft of intellectual property and the trade of counterfeit or pirated goods harm the American economy," said US Customs and Border Protection Chief Shane Campbell. "It threatens the competitiveness of American businesses, and the livelihoods of U.S. workers."

The counterfeiters focus on high-end designer names like Fendi, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton.

But the agents are trained to take a closer look and find the tell. 

They say the best advice to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise — If the price is too good to be real … it probably isn’t.