Shopper beware: Websites selling counterfeit items getting harder to spot

Over 37,000 websites shut down for selling counterfeit merchandise

SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) team is warning shoppers to beware of websites or vendors selling phony or counterfeit items at discounted prices this holiday season.

As part of Operation “In Our Sites,” HSI teams recently shutdown 37,479 websites in 27 different countries, for illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online.

“Especially during the holidays, the market is flooded with counterfeit items,” said Aristides Jimenez, deputy special agent in charge. 

Jimenez said counterfeit products are getting much harder to spot, and the websites that sell them, are getting more sophisticated.

“Do some homework,” Jimenez said.  “You could go online, google the product that you're looking to buy, and look for the real product, and compare.”

Jimenez said websites selling counterfeit items are generally selling products for much cheaper than normal, don't have a working phone number listed, and are coming from overseas. Everything from headphones, clothing, and beauty products are being duplicated for illegal sale.

"Anything that is desirable is going to be counterfeit, because the criminal entities want to make money out of it,” Jimenez said.

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