A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepts shipments of fake Apple AirPods at Erlanger facility

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have intercepted five shipments of counterfeit Apple AirPods at their facility in Erlanger, which, had they been real, would have had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of over $1.3 million.

CBP officers inspected five shipments of headsets from China and found what appeared to be 5,000 fake Apple AirPods and 1,372 fake Apple AirPods Pro. They referred all shipment information, including photographs, to CBP import specialists at the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) to verify the authenticity of the merchandise and to confirm possible trademark violations. The CEE determined all the AirPods were in violation of CBP trademark and copyright codes, and the shipment was seized.

Fake Apple AirPods (US Customs photo)

“Our CBP officers continue to work at a high level, and identifying counterfeit items like these helps prevent transnational criminal organizations from making a profit off unknowing consumers,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director of field operations in Chicago. “These seizures illustrate our commitment to stopping counterfeit products and protecting our nation’s economy and consumers from those intent on defrauding businesses and consumers alike.”

Although each shipment had been manifested as being worth only $312—totaling $1,872 for all five packages—the real product would have had a cumulative value of $1,336,628.

All five shipments were headed to one address in Brownsville, Texas.

“Counterfeiters are only concerned about padding their bank accounts,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie, “and do not consider the impact their fake goods have on the economy or the people who buy their inferior products. Our officers understand how important intellectual property rights enforcement is to our country’s economic integrity, and they work hard to remove fake merchandise from the supply chain so legitimate trade can flourish.”

Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods:

• Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.

• When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and an address that can be used to contact the seller.

• Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers.

• Remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.

To report suspected counterfeits, visit CBP’s online e-Allegations portal or call 1-800-BE-ALERT. More information about counterfeit goods is available on CBP’s Fake Goods, Real Dangers website and StopFakes.gov.

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