U.S. and Worldwide Busts

Gavel, books and handcuffs on wooden table

These nationwide and global anti-piracy seizures are just a small sampling of the worldwide efforts by local, state, and federal law enforcement, often collaborating in anti-piracy investigations. While many of these seizures in the past have focused on physical stockpiles of counterfeited CD and DVD recordings, illegal streaming and filesharing technology has radically transformed how law enforcement battles what are now digital piracy concerns. Meanwhile, counterfeit merchandising has exploded in recent years, which has led to stepped-up efforts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies to stop illegal products from coming into the U.S. from other countries. Local law enforcement also gets involved in cases where illegal products—some of them a threat to public health—are being imported and sold within the U.S.

Today, federal and state anti-piracy efforts tackle digital piracy and the production, transfer and sale of all kinds of counterfeit merchandise, from watches, sneakers, and handbags to counterfeit medicines and vaccines, industrial equipment and beauty products.

2024: January – March |

2023: January – March | April – June | July – September | October – December

2022: January – March | April – June | July – September | October – December

Anti-Piracy Seizure Information: January-March 2024

Georgia | Kentucky | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | New York | Ohio | Puerto Rico | Texas | Worldwide: Australia | China | Hong Kong | Ireland | South Africa | Spain | United Kingdom


February 21, 2024 – Five Georgia residents are under investigation for offering knockoff goods on Facebook after District Attorney Chase Studstill filed a complaint alleging RICO violations. They’re accused of selling counterfeit luxury items including wallets, handbags, scarves, luggage, and belts on Facebook Marketplace and various Facebook stores. Some of the counterfeit goods claimed to be high-end brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel. Law enforcement seized assets including vehicles, cash, and bank accounts totaling over $64,000 on December 14, 2023.

Yahoo! News – February 21, 2024


January 25, 2024 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 3,301 pieces of counterfeit jewelry in two shipments at the Port of Louisville. If genuine, the fake items—rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings—were worth over $9.58 million. They were shipped from Hong Kong. The luxury brand jewelry, bearing trademarks of Cartier, Gucci. Tiffani, Prada and others, were headed to Florida and California. CBP seized the shipments for trademark infringement.

KentuckyToday – Tom Latek – January 25, 2024


February 20, 2024 – A Lynn, Massachusetts man was sentenced to more than three years in prison for art fraud involving fake Andy Warhol paintings. He listed the artwork as authentic on eBay, but then delivered counterfeit paintings to the buyer. The purported Warhol art was two of his abstract “Shadows” paintings, created in 1978 and originally priced at $100,000 each. The eBay ad included a photograph of an invoice showing a $240,000 purchase price for the two paintings, with Warhol Foundation numbers. A buyer, believing the pieces to be authentic, bought them for $80,000. However, there were no official stamps and the canvasses appeared new. The seller did once have the authentic paintings, which he sold to a gallery in 2011. Replicas of the works were also sold to another victim in France, in 2015. The original paintings have not been recovered. The Lynn man pled guilty to wire fraud, interstate transportation for fraud, and unlawful monetary transaction. The court ordered him to pay $475,000 in restitution.

United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts – February 20, 2024


January 25, 2024 – A local Detroit business called The D Spot was raided for selling counterfeit Detroit Lions jerseys, which normally retail for $200. The owner purchased the shirts from Chinese vendors. Counterfeit products from China do not recognize U.S. trademarks and are therefore illegal to sell. He received citations of up to $3,000 for selling fake merchandise that may have been mistaken for authentic licensed NFL products. The store’s owner claimed that since he sold the jerseys for $60, his customers knew they weren’t genuine, so there wasn’t a problem. Clearly, law enforcement and the NFL didn’t agree.

Click On Detroit – Shawn Ley and Brandon Carr – January 25, 2024


February 8, 2024 – CBP officers at the International Falls, Minnesota port of entry searched rail containers and discovered counterfeit phone accessories. They seized 2,956 counterfeit home chargers and 1,363 counterfeit phone cases. These items, if genuine, would have been worth more than $2,645,000. U.S. Customs and Border Protection focuses on identifying and intercepting counterfeit goods, especially at U.S. ports of entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – February 8, 2024

New York

February 2, 2024 – In Lewiston, New York, CBP officers seized counterfeit wireless earphones for violating intellectual property rights. The shipment, arriving at the Buffalo port of entry, contained 119 pairs of earbuds. They were found to be fake due to the unauthorized use of registered trademarks. Authentic earbuds would have sold for about $15,350. Buffalo Port Director Gaetano Cordone voiced CBP’s commitment to protecting U.S. consumers and the economy from counterfeit merchandise.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – February 2, 2024


January 15, 2024 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati seized 11 shipments of counterfeit high-end jewelry worth over $6.96 million. The shipments, originating from Hong Kong, India and Indonesia, contained items with logos from brands like Cartier, Christian Dior, Fendi, Tiffany & Co., and Versace. The counterfeit merchandise lacked intricate details and had generic packaging. Seized items included fake Van Cleef earrings, 102 Rolex watches, Gucci belts, and Franck Muller, Cartier, Tissot and Apple watches. All seized shipments infringed on protected trademarks.

The Highland County Press – January 15, 2024

Puerto Rico

January 25, 2024 – U.S. CBP seized 116 counterfeit luxury jewelry products from one shipment that originated in China. Not only did the jewelry violate intellectual property rights—it also posed health risks due to subpar quality. If the items had been genuine, they would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of approximately $700,000. In 2023, the San Juan Field Office of the CBP conducted 1,313 seizures. The counterfeit goods from these hauls added up to nearly $21 million.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – January 25, 2024

February 8, 2024 – At the San Juan Field Office, CBP officials intercepted three shipments of counterfeit luxury merchandise. The sunglasses, jewelry and other items, if real, would have sold for more than $1.2 million. There were jewelry pieces, accessories, and apparel from brands like Van Cleef, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as 240 counterfeit sunglasses with Versace, Louis Vuitton and Cartier trademarks. The shipments originated in Hong Kong and China.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – February 8, 2024


January 4, 2024 – An Amarillo man faces indictment as police seize $540,000 in counterfeit goods. The Potter County grand jury charged him with trademark counterfeiting exceeding $300,000. Undercover investigations by a private investigator and an officer revealed the sale of Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton items labeled as “replicas.” The man’s store displayed fake Chanel, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Versace items. A subsequent search warrant disclosed over 11,500 counterfeit items valued at $543,661.58. Aware of the counterfeiting, the owner instructed employees to use the term “replicas.” He now faces legal consequences, with Rolex already securing a $14 million judgment for trademark infringement.

ABC7 Amarillo – Jamie Burch – January 4, 2024


January 15, 2024 –Australia Post faces an investigation as one of its stores in Wentworthville, New South Wales, allegedly sold counterfeit designer jewelry. A visitor raised concerns about jewelry resembling luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent, priced at $39.99 each. Over 60% of Australia Post’s outlets are Licensed Post Offices and trading in counterfeit goods is prohibited by Australian law. The postal service is conducting an inquiry and stated that breaches of laws are taken seriously. The store manager confirmed the jewelry was bought in Vietnam.

Jeweller – Samuel Ord – January 15, 2024


January 30, 2024 – Chinese authorities have shut down a counterfeit Apple AirPod operation. In addition to seizing over 100,000 phony products worth $23.5 million, they also dismantled counterfeit dens, production lines, and sales locations. The confiscated items include 69,000 phony AirPods, 45,000 partially finished pieces, counterfeiting equipment, packaging and parts. The counterfeit headphones had already spread across China, reaching Shandong, Sichuan, Hainan and Guangdong provinces. There is no confirmation that any were shipped overseas, but U.S. Customs officials have come across similar types of fake Apple products.

PC Magazine – Kegan Mooney – January 30, 2024

February 7, 2024 – Three people in Shanghai received jail terms and fines for making and selling counterfeit Disney-branded children’s clothes. The investigation started when a suspicious buyer reported Disney underwear that she bought online in February of last year. Authorities raided a Henan warehouse and seized more than 200,000 counterfeit clothing that would have sold for 1.8 million yuan (US $250,000). The couple who ran the illegal operation said that they had an authorization letter from Disney, which they knew wasn’t genuine. The company confirmed that it never authorized the children’s clothing. Between September 2021 and February 2023, they sold more than 830,000 counterfeit products, raking in 17 million yuan (US $2.3 million) in sales. They received prison sentences of 4.5 years and 3 years, plus over 8 million yuan (US $1.1 million) in fines. The store’s manager was also charged in the case.

ChinaDaily.com.cn – Quan Zhanfu – February 7, 2024

Hong Kong

February 7, 2024 – On January 20, Hong Kong customs inspectors seized approximately 9,400 suspected counterfeit products. Their estimated worth was $1.1 million. The officials pulled over a truck and discovered the items they believed to be fake—footwear, watches, clothing, handbags, and mobile phone accessories. A 44-year-old man was arrested. It is believed that the counterfeit merchandise was destined to be shipped overseas by air freight. The individual was released on bail and the investigation is ongoing

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region – February 7, 2024


January 14, 2024 – A man in County Antrim, suspected of selling counterfeit goods, has been released on bail following a police operation. The seizure included clothing, footwear, and electrical items, posing a potential loss of £130,000 (approximately $165,000) to affected brands. The 36-year-old was arrested in Glenavy.

BBC News – January 14, 2024

South Africa

February 26, 2024 – In Marabastad, Pretoria, police seized counterfeit goods valued at more than R8 million (US $416,000), arresting 12 undocumented people. The National Counterfeit Unit, along with police, security officers and officials from the South African Revenue Service, Brand Protectors and the Department of Home Affairs, led the operation. The group seized suspected counterfeit clothing, caps, bags and shoes. This was part of recent crackdowns on illegal unauthorized products. Two weeks ago, there was a seizure in Johannesburg of items valued at R13 million (US $680,000).

South Africa’s Freight News – February 26, 2024


January 15, 2024 – A Spanish optical chain, operating in multiple provinces, was exposed for selling counterfeit luxury sunglasses following a complaint from an Italian manufacturer. The National Police, collaborating with Customs Surveillance, arrested an individual and seized 719 items—fake sunglasses, cases, booklets, and packaging—with a market value of €43,000 (approximately $46,800). The investigation revealed 12 establishments within the legal optician chain engaged in selling counterfeits. The accused, exploiting previous optical sector experience, infiltrated the market, posing a threat to customers trusting the authenticity of products.

EuroWeekly – John Ensor – January 15, 2024

United Kingdom

January 11, 2024 – Operation Vulcan, in collaboration with the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Salford Challenger team, conducted morning raids in Oldham and Salford targeting a suspected counterfeiter. A 44-year-old man was arrested in Oldham for trademark offenses, while in Salford, a warehouse on Cobden Street revealed three units containing high-value machines used for applying counterfeit logos to unbranded clothes. Large quantities of boxed counterfeit clothes were also discovered. The operation aimed to crack down on mass production of counterfeit goods for shops across the UK.

Greater Manchester Police – January 11, 2024

February 5, 2024 – Two brothers were sentenced for selling counterfeit home goods from their Manchester shop. They pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property and distributing articles that infringed registered trademarks. They both received suspended sentences and were ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work. In a November 2021 raid, London police seized 4,342 fake designer home goods worth £827,000 (over US $1 million). The items included picture frames, rugs and blankets.

City of London Police – February 5, 2024

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