Category: Counterfeit

CBP Atlanta Seizes over $500k in Counterfeit Cash

There could have been a big cash seizure in Atlanta by CBP, if only the cash was not counterfeit. CBP Atlanta released some news about this very large would-be-cash-seizure, that happened on Halloween.  The man who tried to bring it in was a U.S. citizen return from Peru. All the money was hidden, and it was confirmed counterfeit by the United States Secret Service.

It was Halloween however, alert U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at Hartsfield -Jackson Atlanta International Airport couldn’t be tricked by a man attempting to smuggle half a million dollars in counterfeit U.S. currency. CBP officer’s Tuesday, intercepted the 62-year old U.S. Citizen arriving from Peru who had attempted to hide $509,700 in counterfeit U.S. $100 bills in his baggage.

“This seizure demonstrates how U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s border search authority protects American businesses and consumers against counterfeit currency and other illicit products that pose potential harm to our nation and to our economy.” said Carey Davis, CBP’s Port Director for the Area Port of Atlanta. “This is our Border Security work at its finest, and we are proud of the officers involved.”

Agents from the U.S. Secret Service arrived and confirmed that the $100 bills were counterfeit. Secret Service agents took custody of the fake currency and individual. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia is prosecuting.

Has Atlanta CBP seized your cash?

If Atlanta CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

An image of 11 counterfeit championship rings that were seized by Detroit U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Detroit Metropolitan airport.

Detroit CBP Seizes $680k in Counterfeit Championship Rings

CBP at Detroit Metro Airport seized $680,000 worth of counterfeit championship rings that were being imported into the United States from China. This counterfeit seizure by happened in April, but it is just now making the news.

That’s probably because the story finally made it from FP&F to CBP’s press department, or because the notice of seizure was finally mailed after a final determination by CBP that the rings were actually counterfeit. A valuation of $680,000 means that Customs is putting an MSRP value on each ring of $5,000.

Recall that each time you cause an importation of a counterfeit item into the United States it subject to seizure and you are subject to a penalty, as the importer, for up to the value of the goods if they were real. You can read more about that in our other articles on that topic: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read).

The use of a fictitious name by the importer opens the importer up to additional liability beyond merely violation 19 USC 1526(e) (importing counterfeits), by charges involving fraud. Not a smart move. Here’s the story:

DETROIT— In late April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $680,000 (MSRP) in counterfeit NHL, NFL and MLB championship rings in a shipment that originated on a flight from China.

While conducting operations at a DHL consignment facility, the Cargo Enforcement Team selected and examined a shipment of rings from China, resulting in the discovery of 136 counterfeit championship rings from the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. In all, the counterfeit rings displayed the names and logos of several teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets. The shipment also included rings for the Chicago Black Hawks and the Boston Red Sox.

The company identified as the receiver of the rings used a fictitious name and was found to have previous copyright/trademark violations.

Have you had allegedly counterfeit merchandise seized by CBP in Detroit?

Not only do you have rights to contest the determination that the merchandise was counterfeit (like getting a sample of seized merchandise), but if you’ve been penalized we are very successful in getting penalties reduced or eliminated entirely. Click the contact button on this page to get in touch with us today!

PHL Fake Traveler's Check Seized by CBP in Philadelphia en route to Chicago

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Checks for Chicago

CBP in Philadelphia seized counterfeit traveler’s checks with a face value of $33,000 on May 25th, which were destined for an address in Chicago. The seizure occured at a sorting facility near the Philadelphia International Airport. Here’s part of the story from CBP:

CBP officers inspected the parcel, which arrived from Nigeria and was manifested as documents, and discovered 67 separate $500 MasterCard travelers checks. Upon closer inspection, CBP officers discovered that none of the alleged security features were visible on the checks. CBP officers seized the parcel, which was destined to an address in Chicago.

The story closes by saying that on a typical day CBP seizes more than $350,000 in cash from throughout the country. Here, the negotiable instruments were not part of a failure to declare (although calling them “documents” certain is not a full declaration for customs purposes), but rather were seized because they were counterfeit and also very likely connected to other criminal activity (scamming).

A twist on this story I’ve heard recently is scammers offering to send millions of dollars of cash into the United States, rather than traveler’s checks. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I do not always know how these scam stories end or what the story is behind the scam (that is, why they’re offering to send cash or traveler’s checks, if it’s counterfeit, etc.), but the old say that if something is too good to be true, it probably is, has helped many people avoid being scammed by these counterfeit check/money situations.

Anyone involved in these types of transactions, whether knowingly or unknowingly, opens themselves up to both criminal and civil liability. Don’t get yourself in trouble.

We recently wrote about “millions” of dollars of “hell” counterfeit money that was seized after arriving travelers, not imported through a commercial shipment, as here.

CBP Seizes Hazardous (Lead) Toys in San Juan

We previously explained the risks that come with importing merchandise into the United States; how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and some strategies can use to defend itself against those penalties.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of San Juan recently seized hazardous toys in four different shipments which arrived between August and September, 2015, with a combined estimated domestic retail value of over $100K.  The toys were found to contain hazardous substances that could represent a risk for children.

Toys that were seized after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead.
Toys were seized in October 2015, after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead.

Working closely with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliance investigators, CBP officials detained several shipments of toys from China on 4 separate incidents between the months of August and September of 2015.  All of the toys were seized in October 2015, after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead in excess of the limit which may be harmful to the health and safety of children.

Children’s products, including toys, which are designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger, must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 0.009 percent (90 parts per million) in paint or any similar surface coatings.

“Import safety is a priority trade issue for CBP,” stated Edward Ryan, San Juan Assistant Director of Field Operations in the area of Trade.  “Our agency works with CPSC as well as nearly 50 other government agencies to enforce U.S. import regulations and to stop unsafe and illicit goods from entering the country.”

Importing hazardous items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government. Once forfeiture is complete, the person who caused the importation may get a notice of penalty or liquidated damages from U.S. Custom & Border Protection for importations contrary to law.

The importer will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Customs Seized 10,000 Fake Designer Handbags in Miami

Customs seized fake handbags, for which the value would be nearly $5 million dollars if they were genuine. After the handbags are seized and determined to be counterfeit, CBP can assess a penalty against the importer of counterfeit goods, even if they believed them to be genuine. The penalty is based off the manufacturer’s suggest retail price of the counterfeit merchandise, as if it had been genuine. Therefore, there’s a very strong reason to believe that the person who imported these bags is going to be facing at least a $5 million dollar penalty. Here is an excerpt from the full story:

Customs seizure of counterfeit handbags.
A customs seizure of counterfeit handbags valued at nearly $5 million dollars.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Miami seaport seized 10,788 high-fashion counterfeit Gucci and Coach handbags arriving in a shipment from China on July 15. Had the goods been genuine, the designer handbags would have an estimated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $4,904,160.

CBP officers initially suspected the handbags to be counterfeit since they did not appear to be of the quality consistent with the products normally authorized and manufactured by the trademark holders. CBP import specialists examined samples and confirmed the items to be counterfeit.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE). If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

Florida CBP Seizes Counterfeit Sunglasses

Customs seized counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses fairly recently. According to the story itself, the sunglasses could have been seized not only because they were counterfeits, but also because the import documents falsely identified them as being something else. That’s called smuggling, among other things. This importer is in for a big penalty, equivalent to the MSRP of the counterfeit goods as if they were genuine. Here is an excerpt of the full story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Tampa seized over 860 counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses arriving in a shipment from China on July 13. Had the goods been genuine, the designer handbags [sic] would have an estimated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $123,455.

US Customs seizure of $123,455 in counterfeit sunglasses.
US Customs seized $123,455 in counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses.

CBP’s highly trained officers successfully targeted and intercepted the U.S.-bound air cargo. The description for the freight was also concealed under a different commodity.

Initially, CBP officers suspected the sunglasses to be counterfeit since they did not appear to be of the quality consistent with the products normally manufactured by the trademark holder. CBP import specialists examined samples and determined the items to be counterfeit.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

U.S. Customs Seize $541,000 in Unsafe Consumer Products

When importing into the United States an importer must make sure to comply with the customs laws for classification, valuation, invoicing, etc. But they also must make sure that they’re products are not harmful or in violations of the myriad of other regulations enforced by CBP at the border; whether they be FDA, Department of Agriculture, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Recently, customs seized over half a million dollars in unsafe consumer products in a joint effort with the French government.

The story below:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and French Customs General Directorate announce the results of Operation Bathe and Beaute, a bilateral Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement operation targeting counterfeit personal care products and electric personal care devices. The joint operation, conducted from April 8 through May 4, resulted in the seizure of 76 shipments of more than 31,000 counterfeit items for a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $541,000.

“Operation Bathe and Beaute reflects our ongoing efforts to interdict illegal trade in counterfeit merchandise, which threatens the competitiveness of legitimate businesses and can jeopardize consumer health and safety,” said Assistant Commissioner Brenda Smith of CBP’s Office of International Trade.

Box of counterfeit items valued at suggested MSRP of $541,000.
76 shipments of more than 31,000 counterfeit items for a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $541,000.

“After the successful Core Systems operation in late 2013, this fourth joint operation between CBP and French Customs demonstrates once again how important it is to exchange information and act together to fight organized crime in a global world,” said François Richard, French Customs Attaché.

The four week operation focused on personal care products and devices that potentially introduce dangerous chemicals and bacteria to the skin and eyes or burning or electrocution due to non-standardized wiring and ineffectual family planning protection to the consumer. Products seized during this event included make-up, condoms, hair removal devices, contact lenses, hair curlers, straighteners and skin cleansing devices.

 

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Watches with $2.7M MSRP

Customs reported a seizure of over 11,000 counterfeit watches which, if real, would have a manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $2,791,250. The same law that permits Customs to seize the counterfeit watches also allows CBP to impose a penalty of up to the MSRP value of the counterfeit watches. In this case, that means the importer of these watches will be subject to a penalty of nearly $2.8 million dollars.

MIAMI – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers with the Miami Seaport Trade Enforcement Team (TET) seized 11,165 counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.

Counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.
CBP seized 11,165 counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.

The watches were being shipped from China and destined for Florida. CBP OFO officers discovered the watches in 123 cartons arriving in a shipment from China.

CBP OFO officers with the Trade Enforcement Team (TET) suspected the watches were counterfeit as the items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with the watches that are normally manufactured by the trademark holder.

Samples were submitted to CBP Import Specialists for review and determined to be counterfeit.

“Counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts and CBP OFO officers here at the Miami Seaport take great pride in protecting Americans from low quality and unsafe products,” said Miami Seaport Port Director Diane Sabatino. “Our CBP officers consistently demonstrate their exceptional skills at identifying counterfeit goods and work well with CBP Import Specialists to protect consumers and ensure these products do not enter the commerce of the United States.”

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

CBP Seizes Fake Apparel Worth $48K from Arriving Traveler

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a large amount of counterfeit clothing from a traveler that was arriving from El Salvador. I guess this puts to rest my belief that it is a rare occurrence when when Customs encounters somebody who is travelling from overseas with this large of an amount of counterfeit clothing.

Typically, counterfeit importations are just subject to seizure. In other words, the ‘penalty’ is loss of the goods through government seizure and forfeiture. However, Customs can impose monetary penalties under 19 USC 1526(f) on “any person who directs, assists … aids and abets [in] the importation of merchandise for sale or public distribution” once the property is seized.

Customs may presume that the large quantities means that is must have been intended for sale or public distribution. Thus, this person may have exposed himself to a monetary penalty equal to the MSRP of the seized goods as if they were real. It could be that it was meant for public sale or distribution, or it could just be that all these articles were intended for personal use and the buyer just could not stop himself from getting a good deal. Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized counterfeit Gucci, Burberry, Lacoste, Versace, Armani, Ferrari, Coco Chanel, Tory Burch and Michael Kors merchandise, May 13,

Counterfeit Clothing Seized by CBP

valued at more than $48,000.

The seized items included shirts, hats, shoes, purses and jewelry destined for Houston.

CBP officers conducted an inspection of a passenger arriving from El Salvador with checked bags. During the inspection, they discovered 161 brand-named articles that appeared to be counterfeit. The items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with legitimate goods as the items included unusual labeling and the markings on the clothing were not manufactured by the trademark holders.

Counterfeit Chanel Jewelry

“Packing hundreds of phony articles in suitcases doesn’t release passengers from their obligation to adhere to U.S. import laws and requirements,” said Houston CBP Port Director Charles Perez. “This seizure protects the trademark holder, their businesses and their employees and denies criminal organizations from reaping profits from the sale of counterfeit and illegitimate consumer goods.”

Counterfeit Chanel jewelry was among the seized items. Watches and jewelry topped the list of seized items sorted by value in fiscal year 2014.

CBP officers obtained digital images of the merchandise and forwarded them to the trademark owner to determine their authenticity. After verifying that the merchandise was counterfeit, CBP seized every item for infringement of intellectual property rights.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

CBP Seizes Counterfeits from Traveler from Vietnam

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a large amount of counterfeit clothing from a traveler that was arriving from Vietnam. To the best of my knowledge, it is a pretty rare occurrence when Customs encounters somebody who is traveling from overseas with a lot of counterfeit clothing.

Typically, counterfeit importations are just subject to seizure. In other words, the ‘penalty’ is loss of the goods through government seizure and forfeiture. However, Customs can impose monetary penalties under 19 USC 1526(f) on “any person who directs, assists … aids and abets [in] the importation of merchandise for sale or public distribution” once the property is seized.

By bringing in such a large quantity of counterfeits this person may have exposed themselves to a monetary penalty (to the tune of the MSRP of $22,000) because Customs may presume that the large quantities means that is must have been intended for sale or public distribution. It could be that it was meant for public sale or distribution, or it could just be that all these articles were intended for personal use and the buyer just got carried away with buying them. Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport seized 220 clothing items with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of just over $22,000 found in a passenger’s checked luggage.

CBP officers conducted an inspection of a passenger arriving from Vietnam with six checked bags and discovered multiple clothing items in commercial quantities that appeared to be counterfeit, violating intellectual property rights.

The counterfeit items included 82 different Adidas products ranging from tank tops to windbreakers, 36 different Abercrombie items, 65 Chanel pieces, 12 Nike sweatshirts, 15 Ralph Lauren items, and an assortment of other name brand designers. The seized items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with legitimate goods as the items included unusual lettering and labeling and the markings on the clothing were not manufactured by the trademark holders.

“Counterfeit items even in small quantities is an IPR violation and adversely affects unsuspecting consumers, businesses and our economy,” said Port Director Cleatus Hunt. “This type of seizure typically occurs through other commercial shipping means, however, we will take any opportunity to intercept the smuggling of counterfeit goods. This seizure in the airport environment represents our commitment to enforcing priority trade issues.”

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles: