Investigators warn shoppers of counterfeit goods

December 19, 2012 3:50:11 PM PST
The final holiday shopping rush has begun, and tonight there is a warning for last minute bargain hunters.

Federal investigators say fake merchandise is popping up everywhere; everything from luxury brands to popular electronics, even medicine has fooled customers who are looking for deals.

As you are shopping this holiday season, you are probably focused on price and quality, and if the latter is really important to you, you should also be concerned about authenticity.

Homeland Security Investigations has collected a large stash of popular merchandise that looks authentic but is actually counterfeit.

"Like monster beat headphones, luxury brands like Louis Vitton, Coach," said Steven Kim from Homeland Security Investigations.

Agents for HSI say buyer beware. While counterfeit goods are usually far cheaper in price, they can also be downright dangerous.

"Some of this counterfeit Viagra was produced in China, baked in a shack, and then spray-painted blue," said Kim. "So you don't know what you're putting in your body, which could be extremely harmful."

Counterfeit Beats by Dr. Dre headphones can also be dangerous.

"These are electronic devices, and you don't know what can short-circuit, especially if you're putting it by your ear," he said.

And bogus goods also have a big impact on our economy. Over $700 billion is lost in revenue each year worldwide.

"And here in the U.S., we lose about $750,000 jobs a year, so this is not a victimless crime," said Kim.

"I just never thought about it but we do need to think about it if it's affecting people's jobs and people are getting fake goods," said Valerie Anderson.

To avoid buying fake goods, shop at reputable brick and mortar retailers and online merchants you know. And if the price seems too good to be true - it probably is.

"And I don't think I would want my family members to have it, because it would probably be unsafe," said Paul MacWilliams.

If you know of a store or individual selling counterfeit goods, or if you think you were sold something fake, authorities want to hear from you.

Report illegal activity to http://www.iprcenter.gov/

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