$30M Worth in Counterfeit Goods Seized in Los Angeles

Fake Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton handbags and clothing were just some of the items found in a large shipment of counterfeit goods coming in from China.

Updated 2 December 2021
$30M Worth in Counterfeit Goods Seized in Los Angeles

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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United States Counterfeit Goods Statistics

$1.3 billion in counterfeit items seized each year
$200 billion yearly loss to businesses

$959 billion (estimated value of the counterfeit market by 2022)

Source: Library of U.S. Congress

Sections on this page
  1. How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Goods
  2. How the CBP Protects U.S. Consumers from Counterfeit Products
  3. Where are Counterfeit Designer Products Sold?

$30 million worth of counterfeit goods, including fake designer handbags and clothing, was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on November 9, 2021, at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport. 

The shipping container included 13,586 counterfeit items and originated in China, which produces most of the fake products in distribution. Among the items included counterfeit:

  • Handbags
  • Tote bags
  • Shoulder bags
  • Backpacks
  • Shirt
  • Pants

Many included fake branding of expensive and well-known designer brands, such as Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. If these items were sold at the recommended price of the genuine products, the total value would have been $30,437,775. 

It is suspected that the products were being shipped in time for the holiday rush and were likely planned to be sold as the real deal. 

Donald R. Kusser, Port Director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport

Bad actors exploit e-commerce operations by selling counterfeit and unsafe goods through online platforms, particularly during the holiday season when shoppers are looking for deals.

If the price of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeit goods are often of poor quality and can even be unsafe for you and your family.

How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Goods

When you're spending hundreds (even thousands) of dollars on designer clothing and accessories, the last thing you want is to find out that it's just a cheap knock-off. The best ways to protect yourself from fake products include:

  • Only buying from authorized retailers or the brand's website directly
  • Only buying products that are certified as genuine and come with a guarantee
  • Checking serial numbers (some brands have online databases so you can check if serial numbers are legitimate)

If you decide to buy designer products from non-authorized sellers (including private sellers), then make sure you look closely at the item before purchasing it. Many fakes can be spotted by finding tell-tale signs, such as:

  • Poor quality in stitching, materials, and prints
  • Typos in online listings
  • Incorrect or sketchy logos
  • Serial numbers that are not found in the brand's database
  • Colorways that do not exist for the genuine product/brand
  • A price point that is too good to be true

Also, be sure to read all customer reviews and ask for actual photos of the product before buying it. If you're buying it from a private seller, ask to see the item in person first before sending them any money. 

Real vs fake Chanel handbag (stitching)
You may be able to spot a fake Chanel bag by looking at the stitching. Notice how the stitching on the genuine Chanel bag creates a perfect diamond, while the fake handbag's stitching does not.

How the CBP Protects U.S. Consumers from Counterfeit Products

The CBP identifies 5% of all shipping containers coming into the U.S. by sea as high risk and inspects them using X-ray/gamma-ray imaging systems. If the scan reveals cargo that may be dangerous, illegal, or something that doesn't match the documentation, they will open and examine the contents. 

In this particular case, we aren't sure what tipped off the CBP officers, but it could have been questionable importation forms or simply a suspicion based on the fact that the shipment was coming in from China. 

Where are Counterfeit Designer Products Sold?

Scammers sell knock-off designer products all over. In the U.S., it's more common to see these items being sold online, on sites like:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • OfferUp

However, you may also find these products sold in smaller retail stores—not big-name stores like Macy's or Nordstrom, but smaller, one-off stores.

The destination of this shipping container has not been made public, so it's unclear how these products were going to be sold.