Buyer Beware: Warning about counterfeit goods ahead of holiday shopping season

JAMAICA, Queens (WABC) -- Just in time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday shopping season, federal authorities are warning shoppers to be wary of counterfeit goods.

The holidays mean big business for counterfeit goods -- and long hours for federal agents charged with keeping those fakes away from consumers.

Inspectors from Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened up a warehouse at JFK Airport to show off some of the counterfeit goods they come across each and every day. One box contained counterfeit Boston Red Sox jerseys, but that's not what it said on the label.

"It's manifested as plastic boards," said Anna Ormsby, of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "We need to know what type of plastic boards are coming in to the U.S."

Counterfeit goods are no longer limited to watches and handbags. There are now fake Super Bowl and World Series trophies, and even an Oscar.

"This is not a victimless crime," said Angel Melendez, of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. "It hurts businesses. It hurts economies."

And poor quality products could explode or catch fire, and they could also contain materials that are harmful to people.

To avoid getting duped or injured, agents advise shoppers to:
-Buy their gifts at authentic retail stores
-Avoid shopping on the dark net
-Closely examine the quality of the merchandise

"The stitching should be a little better," said Frank Russo, of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "You can see the actual thread coming apart on the actual jersey. That's an indicator right there."

The purchase of counterfeit goods often finances criminal enterprises, prompting a new level of "buyer beware."

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