U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Air Centralized Examination Station (Air-CES), in coordination with Import Specialists assigned to the Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence and Expertise, seized 41 watches bearing counterfeit luxury trademarks. If genuine, the seized watches would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,294,500.
The watches arrived in individual packages via air cargo from China to destinations across the United States, and were discovered during a period of five weeks, from April 12 to May 22. In an attempt to evade detection by CBP officials, the watches were misdeclared as “Bracelet,” “Belt,” “Decoration,” “Watch Box,” and “Wall Clock.”
The Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising Center confirmed that the watches infringed the following registered trademarks that had been recorded for border enforcement through CBP’s e-Recordation program: Rolex (37 pieces), Luminor Panerai (1 piece), Patek Philippe (1 piece), Audemars Piguet (1 piece), and Omega (1 piece).
“There are thousands of private sellers, collectors, and other non-legitimate sources offering luxury watches on e-commerce platforms making it extremely difficult for consumers to spot these fakes,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “Consumers should know that buying fake watches is never a good idea, don’t waste your money.”
Counterfeit watches are made with cheap metals that could cause skin allergic reactions and will likely break as they lack the craftsmanship and quality of the real ones. In addition, buying counterfeit watches on illegitimate websites could expose consumers to internet security risks, from malware or ransomware to compromising your personal data and financial information shared during the purchase.
“The bottom line is that importing, selling and buying counterfeit goods is illegal,” said Cheryl Davies, CBP Port Director of the Los Angeles International Airport. “While it may seem innocent, the money you spend on counterfeit products often funds criminal activity, from forced labor, human and drug trafficking, to violent crime.”
Nationwide in fiscal year (FY) 2022, CBP seized nearly 21,000 shipments containing 25 million individual goods that violated intellectual property rights. The total estimated MSRP value of the seized goods, had they been genuine, was nearly $3 billion.
Watches/Jewelry were the top products seized in terms of total MSRP value with seizures valued at over $1.14 billion, representing 38.49% of the total.