Feds warn of fake merchandise this holiday season

Fake designer products are everywhere, here's how to avoid buying a knock-off.

Michael Kors, Gucci and Coach. Except, well, they're not. This pile of designer purses, sunglasses, even makeup is just a small piece of a pricey pie of confiscated, counterfeit merchandise.

"The counterfeit merchandise coming into the U.S. costs about 750,000 U.S. jobs," said Marty Raybon, Director of Operations, Border Security.

Agents and officers with Homeland Security say holiday shoppers watch out, revenue lost last year from knock-offs hit roughly $1.2 billion. About  $27 million of that  from the Detroit area.

But robbing folks of jobs and making a bootleg profit is not the only problem, the feds say this mock merchandise could also be dangerous.

"The makeup could have carcinogens in it, lead in it," said Lorin Allain, a special agent with Homeland Security. "The toys could have lead in it and children put it in their mouths. There's a danger there."

Although the brand name is there, one way or another these fake, flashy phones and chargers they say could be faulty including Christmas lights and other electronics - like these headphones.

Federal agents say one of the biggest ways to spot counterfeit items is the material - it is cheaper. Second of all, the logos might not look right, there could be misspellings or might not even be there.

The biggest way to spot them is the price.

"If it's too good of a deal, then it most likely is counterfeit," Allain said. "Other things is buying it from a reputable source."

Federal agents say unreliable websites with unusual addresses or insufficient contact information or sites offering so-called "exclusive" designs which all are major red flags. And as the top seized items include clothing and accessories spotting these scams, can be difficult. 

But if you do, the counterfeit tip line is: (866) DHS-2ICE

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