US Customs Officials Seize Counterfeit Apple Products From China

US Customs Officials Seize Counterfeit Apple Products From China
Cargo containers are loaded on container ships at a port in Qingdao, a city in eastern China's Shandong Province, on April 8, 2018. (AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang

U.S. customs officials in Los Angeles seized 16,620 counterfeit Apple products in a recent shipment from China.

Inside the shipment were 2,400 pairs of fake wireless headphone AirPods and 14,220 counterfeit Lightning charging cables, according to a Sept. 9 statement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Lightning is a proprietary brand of computer and power connectors designed by Apple.

If authentic, these counterfeit items would have a suggested retail price of $651,780.

“Counterfeit products have a negative impact on the U.S. economy, as each time a consumer buys a counterfeit good, a legitimate company loses revenue,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles, in a CBP statement.

“This translates to lost profits and U.S. jobs over time.”

China remains the top source of fake goods entering the U.S. market. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CBP made 27,599 seizures in the fiscal year 2019. These goods would have had an estimated retail price of more than $1.5 billion if they were genuine.

Watches and jewelry represented 15 percent of 27,599 seizures, followed by apparel and accessories with 14 percent. Consumer electronics accounted for 10 percent, or 2,681 seizures.

Among these seizures last year, 13,293, or 48 percent, originated from China, followed by Hong Kong with 9,778 seizures, or 35 percent.

“Counterfeit electrical goods are not put through the same vigorous safety checks as legitimate items and are often very dangerous,” said Donald R. Kusser, CBP port director at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport, in the CBP statement.

“Consumers need to be extremely cautious when they buy electronics from non-legitimate sources.”

CBP officials made numerous seizures coming from China in the past few months.

Also in Los Angeles, CBP intercepted a shipment from China in June containing 16,340 counterfeit women’s sleeping dresses bearing the logos of Gucci, Facebook, and Instagram. These fake dresses would have had a total suggested retail price of more than $5.4 million if they were authentic.
On July 27, CBP officials in Chicago announced that it had seized a total of 19,888 counterfeit U.S. drivers’ licenses in separate shipments from Jan. 1 to June 30. The majority of these shipments originated from China and Hong Kong, with some of them also coming from the UK and South Korea.
In Cincinnati on Aug. 14, CBP officials seized 7,500 counterfeit cellphone cases and 2,040 counterfeit phone front covers in three shipments coming from China. The cases and front covers were either labeled as Apple or Samsung, and the shipments were destined for individuals in Laredo, Texas, and El Salvador.
On Aug. 25, CBP announced a recent seizure of 62 counterfeit sports championship rings in Chicago. These rings were found in a shipment originating from Shanghai and headed for a store in Aurora, Illinois. If authentic, these rings would have had a total value of $93,600.

Among the 62 fake rings were 37 Superbowl rings for three teams in the National Football League: the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, and St. Louis Rams. Other rings were for teams in other sports leagues—NBA (National Basketball Association), MLB (Major League Baseball), and NHL (National Hockey League)—such as the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Philadelphia Flyers.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.