U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, officers in Illinois stopped over $76,000 in counterfeit bills and $465,000 in fake merchandise from entering the country last week at O’Hare International Airport, in two different busts.
Both discoveries occurred on Feb. 1, with the first taking place at the International Mail Facility, or IMF.
Officers at the IMF were conducting baggage inspections inside the passenger terminal and held five parcels from different shippers in China, for inspection.
All five shipments, CBP said in a press release, contained counterfeit currency in denominations ranging from $1 to $100, totaling $76,054.
The currency was marked and expected to be used as prop money. Regardless, it is a violation to reproduce currency, the CBP said.
“Today, criminals have relatively easy access to the technology, equipment and know-how required for counterfeiting. It is a lucrative business which is often used to finance criminal activities,” Ralph Piccirilli, the acting area port director Chicago said. “Criminal groups continuously target our citizens, businesses and the security of the United States financial structure hoping to make a quick buck and damage our economic system. Our officers are there to stop that threat to our nation.”
As the seizure of counterfeit money was wrapping up, officers at another terminal at the airport referred a U.S. citizen returning from Turkey to secondary baggage.
While speaking with officers, the man said he purchased $1,000 in items while in Turkey for family and friends. When the inspectors analyzed the baggage, they found 61 designer watches, clothing, handbags, sunglasses and jewelry, all of which were fake. Had the items been real, CBP said, the MSRP would have been $465,798.
“Counterfeit goods pose a very real threat to the safety and economic prosperity of the American people,” LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, the director of field operations at the Chicago field office said. “CBP will continue to use all methods at its disposal to ensure items entering the U.S. do not harm Americans and to foster a fair and competitive trade environment for American manufacturers.”
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According to the press release, counterfeiting and intellectual property rights piracy costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year and are responsible for the loss of over 750,000 American jobs.
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