U.S. & Worldwide Busts – July-September 2023

Anti-Piracy Seizure Information

California | Connecticut | Illinois | Kentucky | Maryland | Massachusetts | New Jersey | New York | Ohio | Texas | Virginia | Worldwide: Australia | Canary Islands | Jamaica | Philippines | United Kingdom


August 22, 2023 – Federal authorities intercepted counterfeit Apple merchandise valued at almost $400,000 from Hong Kong shipments at Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport and Ontario International Airport. The haul included fake Apple watches and wireless earphones, camouflaged in generic packaging. U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Jaime Ruiz stated the confiscated items comprised 220 wrist wearable devices and 1,200 pairs of wireless headphones. The estimated retail value, if authentic, stood at $396,812. These goods arrived in six air cargo shipments within a week in mid-July.

NBC Los Angeles – City News Service – August 22, 2023

September 9, 2023 – California Attorney General Rob Bonta has secured the sentencing of a Los Angeles businessman, for tax evasion and counterfeiting. The company, Cavalier Closeouts, trafficked in counterfeit clothing brands and filed false tax returns to conceal earnings. Facing charges for trading fake apparel from renowned brands like Adidas and Vans, the owner pled guilty to counterfeiting and tax fraud. He paid over $580,000 in restitution, received a two-year suspended sentence, and will serve two years of probation along with 90 days of community service.

Sierra Sun Times – September 9, 2023


August 8, 2023 – A Wilton man and owner of Hatch Estate Services LLC pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit paintings, particularly those purported to be by artist Peter Max. Operating between April 2020 and January 2022, the man utilized online platforms like Estatesales.org, misrepresenting 145 paintings as authentic Peter Max works. He employed multiple aliases and provided false certificates of authenticity, defrauding 43 buyers of $248,600. The FBI arrested him following an investigation, and despite violating pre-trial conditions, he awaits sentencing on October 30. The mail fraud charge could lead to a maximum 20-year prison term.

The Hour – Josh LaBella – August 8, 2023


July 31, 2023 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted 614 counterfeit designer pieces, including jewelry and handbags, at Chicago O’Hare Airport from two packages originating in Thailand. The seized items, mimicking brands like Chanel and Gucci, violated protected trademarks and held an estimated combined value of almost $800,000 if authentic. Chicago Operations Director LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke praised CBP’s advancements in detection and targeting capabilities, citing improved resources, information sharing, and partnerships as vital for intercepting such illegal shipments.

ABC 7 Chicago – July 31, 2023

September 19, 2023 – Customs and Border Protection officers at Chicago O’Hare’s International Mail Branch intercepted a shipment from Thailand containing 67 counterfeit designer items, including watches, bracelets, handbags, and scarves. Valued at over $1 million if authentic, the items imitated Rolex, Gucci, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton logos. Upon examination, 53 watches, 9 bracelets, 3 handbags, and 2 scarves were identified as counterfeit and poorly packaged. Seized for trademark infringement, the shipment, bound for an Oklahoma residence, reflected an estimated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $1.08 million had the items been genuine.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – September 19, 2023


July 12, 2023 – Louisville CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) officials intercepted and inspected two shipments of phone cases, designer rings and watch bands, which the agency’s trade experts found to be counterfeit. The first package contained 2,500 rings with fake logos of Roles, Gucci, Versace and Bvlgari that infringed upon registered trademarks. The products, shipped from Hong Kong, were on their way to Georgia. The other shipment, also from Hong Kong, was on its way to an Orlando, Florida residence. It contained 210 watch bands and 319 phone cases with Louis Vuitton logos and 60 Gucci watch bands—all counterfeits. These were also found to be in violation of the designers’ registered trademarks and were seized as well. If genuine, this merchandise would have had a suggested retail value of $1.76 million.  

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – July 12, 2023

August 1, 2023 – Customs officers in Louisville seized 130 counterfeit watches valued at $4.24 million. The intercepted shipments, originating from Hong Kong, contained knockoff designer watches mimicking brands like Rolex, Patek, Cartier, Omega, and others. Had these watches been sold at their suggested retail prices, the total worth would have reached $4.24 million. LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, the Chicago Field Office’s director of field operations, emphasized the significance of their work in safeguarding consumers and the economy, especially with the rise of online purchases where fraudulent sellers attempt to profit from fake goods.

WDRB.com – August 1, 2023


July 27, 2023 – Officers from the Baltimore division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 13,660 pairs of counterfeit canvas-topped Converse sneakers that had a retail value, if genuine, of more than $314,000. The athletic footwear was in violation of Converse’s midsole design trademark, shipped from China to a Los Angeles County address. The shipment was marked as “shoes,” and officers suspected they were counterfeit. They sent photographs and documentation to their Intellectual Property Enforcement Branch (IPE) which made the final determination. The division confirmed that the sneakers violated Converse’s protected trademark. The shipment was seized but no one, as yet, has been charged with the crime. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – July 27, 2023


July 12, 2023 – Local police seized $11.3 million worth of counterfeit merchandise from a Shrewsbury storage facility. The fake goods were from designer brands like Luis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada. According to the Shrewsbury Police Department, officers went to the scene where multiple gunshots were reported and searched the Extra Space Storage property to track down the gunfire. In one of the storage units, they discovered thousands of counterfeit goods neatly displayed on boxes, tables and shelves, as one would see at a retail store. Police found phony shoes, hats, handbags, backpacks, sunglasses, clothing, earbuds, umbrellas and phone cases from luxury brands like Prada, Nike, Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Gucci, Rolex and North Face. Additionally, 19 other products valued at almost $45,000 were seized from two nearby vehicles.

Boston 25 News – Brea Douglas and Frank O’Laughlin – July 12, 2023

New Jersey

August 24, 2023 – Three New Jersey men pleaded guilty to trafficking counterfeit computer networking devices. Operating from 2017 to 2021, they sold fake Cisco Systems Inc. networking equipment through various entities. Despite advertising the products as authentic, these were counterfeit devices sourced from overseas suppliers at lower prices and sold at inflated rates. Sentencing for trafficking in counterfeit goods is set for December and January. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey – August 24, 2023

New York

August 18, 2023 – The NYPD arrested eight illegal Canal Street vendors for selling counterfeit goods valued at around $30 million. Collaborating with precincts, the Community Response Team, and the Business Improvement District, officers seized luxury watches, bags, sneakers, and more. The confiscated items filled an entire truck. An investigator estimated the recovered goods’ worth, citing Rolex watches at $25,000, Louis Vuitton bags at $5,000, and sneakers at $1,500 each. Police emphasized the impact on buyers, brands, local retailers, and the neighborhood’s quality of life. Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey urged consumers to report such vendors by calling 311. The vendors, aged 33 to 50, face trademark counterfeiting charges and unlicensed vendor charges.

The Villager – Dean Moses – August 18, 2023

September 13, 2023 – In Lower Manhattan, police conducted a significant counterfeit goods bust along Canal Street and Broadway, seizing knockoff luxury items and making 18 arrests. The area, popular with tourists seeking New York souvenirs, faced complaints due to numerous sellers obstructing businesses. The bust targeted condensed groups of vendors, resulting in the confiscation of counterfeit goods filling three flatbed trucks. Valued at $35 million based on genuine item prices, most suspects faced trademark counterfeiting charges. Concerns about vendors harassing customers were voiced by a store manager, who was relieved by the police action. NYPD vows to maintain surveillance in the area to prevent a resurgence of illegal vending activities.

ABC 7 New York – September 13, 2023


August 21, 2023 – In a week-long effort named Special Operation Home Plate, Cincinnati CBP officers targeted counterfeit sports merchandise from MLB, MLS, and NFL teams. They seized 100 shipments valued at $155,919 MSRP, mostly originating from China and Hong Kong but also from Guatemala, Mexico, and Canada. Additionally, 34 shipments were abandoned. The CBP utilized specialized import experts to identify and evaluate the seized counterfeit goods, underscoring their commitment to protecting U.S. citizens and economic interests by intercepting fraudulent and illegal merchandise, aligning with their focus on intellectual property rights enforcement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – August 21, 2023


July 7, 2023 – At the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials seized counterfeit luxury watches from Hong Kong, on their way to an Oklahoma resident. The five high-end counterfeit Richard Mille watches, if genuine, would have retailed for more than $3 million. But these were confirmed as fake by CBP’s Center of Excellence and Expertise (CEE).

American Journal of Transportation – July 7, 2023


August 15, 2023 – Arlington police discovered over 100,000 counterfeit items valued at $650,000 in an Arlington warehouse. The counterfeit patches and logos mimicked Barbie, Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. The investigation began after a private company, representing manufacturers, flagged Creo Piece, an online company, for selling copyrighted logo items. Undercover purchases confirmed the merchandise as counterfeit. The bust revealed an extensive manufacturing operation with industrial equipment for fake logos and clothes. Homeland Security disclosed previous seizures totaling $600,000 in counterfeit goods sent to the owner. Despite authorities finding manufacturing equipment, he claimed that he did not create the illegal products, but that they were delivered to him. If authentic, the seized items would have amounted to over $47 million in value. The business owner posted bail and faces charges for trademark violations.

Fox 4 – August 15, 2023


September 23, 2023 – At Melbourne International airport, the Australian Border Force discovered counterfeit luxury goods from a Morwell man who had just visited Vietnam. ABF officers, using x-ray examination, found trademark-infringing items including imitation jewelry, sunglasses, and accessories, from renowned brands like Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Prada, and others. A total of 493 counterfeit items were found within five boxes.

Mirage.News – September 23, 2023

Canary Islands

September 2, 2023 – In an extensive crackdown called Operation ‘LABEL,’ the Guardia Civil seized over 25,000 counterfeit luxury items valued at €6 million (U.S. $6.5 million) across Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Thirty-nine suspects and 41 businesses were involved in the illegal trade, selling counterfeit products across multiple islands. The operation, ongoing since May, targeted stores selling fake goods from high-end brands, including clothing, accessories, and children’s items. Experts confirmed the items were counterfeits, raising concerns about potential safety risks for children. The seizure underscores significant financial implications and marks one of the largest operations against counterfeit goods in the Canary Islands, involving collaboration between various law enforcement units.

Euro Weekly News – John Ensor – September 2, 2023


July 20, 2023 – Following a complaint from a brand owner of counterfeit goods that mimicked their products, police conducted a raid on a downtown Kingston store. They discovered a warehouse inside the store with a massive quantity of fake Puma, Crocs, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger items. The Intellectual Property Rights Unit of the Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime bureau confirmed that more than $200 million of counterfeit merchandise was seized from the store and that a foreign individual was arrested. This latest bust brings the value of counterfeit products removed from Kingston streets since January to more than $500 million.

Jamaica Observer – Jason Cross – July 20, 2023


July 16, 2023 – The Bureau of Customs (BoC) in the Port of Subic seized counterfeit products in two 40-foot container shipments. The fake merchandise included famous brands like Calvin Klein, Balenciaga, Adidas, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Under Armour, Zara, Reebok, GAP and Nike. This bust was part of continuing efforts by the bureau to stop intellectual property rights infringement. After examining the goods and cross-referencing documentation, customs officials were able to identify the shipments that contained the fake products. A total of 1,269 boxes had counterfeited merchandise. The shipment was marked as “T-shirts” but included various apparel with designs and logos of well-known brands. The estimated retail value, if genuine, is P240M (USD $4.38M).

The Manila Times – Mahatma Randy V. Datu – July 16, 2023

United Kingdom

July 4, 2023 – Police in Manchester raided shipping containers in the city and found a record number of counterfeit products worth an estimated £87m ( USD $110.9M). Included in the record-breaking 580 tons of products (207 shipping containers) were counterfeit drugs, clothes, vapes, tobacco and nitrous oxide canisters. Authorities confirmed that this was the largest European counterfeit seizure in 20 years and one of the largest in the world. It took 100 police, brand experts and security personnel two weeks to open the containers and process the phony merchandise. These containers were discovered near the Cheetham Hill area. In 2021, Manchester police found 200 tons of counterfeit goods in a Strangeways storage facility.

Sky News – July 4, 2023

July 27, 2023 – At a raid on a counterfeit facility in Cheetham Hill, police arrested a 36-year-old man on suspicion of trademark infringement. Inside the building, investigators found machines used to attach counterfeit designer logos to unbranded products. They also seized large quantities of clothing and labels ready to be put on clothes and handbags, in addition to vapes, machines and cash.

About Manchester – Nigel Barlow – July 27, 2023

July 29, 2023 – In an effort to shut down illegal IPTV streaming, a court ruling has handed down some of the longest sentences for piracy crimes. Five individuals found to be the leaders of a piracy operation that made more than £7 million from 50,000 subscribers received a combined sentence of 30 years in jail (ranging from 3 years and 11 months to 11 years). The group, under the names Optimal, Shared VPS and Flawless, allowed users to watch Premier League football matches with illegal IPTV. They also streamed television series, films and global channels.

Cord Cutters News – Kayla Wassell – July 29, 2023

August 16, 2023 – In Camden, London, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) seized counterfeit goods valued at £5 million (US $6.3 million), including clothing, handbags, jewelry, and watches. Raids on two shops led to the seizure, with three arrests made for trademark infringement suspicions. Detective Sergeant Andrew Masterson highlighted the link between counterfeit sales and funding other organized crimes, impacting local communities. The operation discovered 2,000 fake handbags worth an estimated £2 million in one shop and 2,487 counterfeit football shirts and accessories worth £3 million in another. The successful operation involved collaboration among City of London Police, Metropolitan Police, Camden Council’s Trading Standards, and anti-counterfeiting organizations.

City of London Police – August 16, 2023

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