Customs in Hamburg and Dortmund seize tens of thousands of counterfeits; authorities in Italy dismantle a counterfeiting factory; and US investigators score multi-million-dollar seizures of counterfeit masks for protecting against Covid-19.

Hamburg customs seizes counterfeit toys and textiles
Customs investigators in Hamburg have prevented the import of around 14,600 counterfeit toys and textiles. Officials discovered the counterfeits during routine inspections of containers, which originated in China and were to be transported onward from Hamburg to other EU member states, such as Poland. Among others, the officials seized some 5,700 yo-yos and more than 1,300 toys for toddlers that illicitly carried illustrations of well-known animated films, including some of the NBC Universal and Disney brands. Officials also confiscated some 1,600 counterfeit scarves that unlawfully carried the trademark of luxury goods manufacturer Gucci. The officials noticed the products because of their appearance and packaging; the brand manufacturers confirmed that they were counterfeits, authorities said.

Customs stops hundreds of kilos of counterfeit cell phone accessories
As has now been released, customs officials in Dortmund seized around 9,000 counterfeit cell phone screen covers back in mid-December, when the products were declared for import into Germany. The armored glass foils, which originated in China and weighed a total of around 500 kilograms, carried the trademark of a well-known smartphone manufacturer without the importer being able to produce the necessary licensing documents. It has since been confirmed that the goods were counterfeits, according to officials.

Counterfeit alcohol and oil seized in Italy
Some 1,400 liters of counterfeit champagne, oils, and ethyl alcohol have been seized in Southern Italy by officials from the Guardia di Finanza Naples and the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies. Investigators busted an illegal factory in the basement of a private residence where counterfeit drinks were being labeled with fake labels. Officials seized about 774 bottles of champagne, about 800 bottles of oil and ethyl alcohol from several distilleries, and about 130,000 pieces of packaging materials for the bottles, including aluminum caps, labels, cartons, and logos of well-known brands, as well as indications of origin. If they had put the counterfeits on the market, the fraudsters could have earned more than 120,000 euros, authorities estimate. The owners of the factory, a 55-year-old woman and a 48-year-old man, now have to face trial.

Seizures of counterfeit masks worth millions in the USA
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently recorded massive seizures of counterfeit masks for protection against Covid-19, with a total value of more than 1.6 million U.S. dollars (about 1.3 million euros). As was recently released, customs confiscated more than 140,000 counterfeit N95 masks of the 3M brand at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, back in early December. The counterfeits were in two shipments originating from Hong Kong, and the value of their original versions is estimated at around 158,000 US dollars (about 130,000 euros). Officials in Cincinnati, Ohio, also netted a shipment containing about 10,000 alleged 3M masks originating from China just before Christmas. They were addressed to a company in California, but the shipment lacked the necessary information for verification; moreover, the masks had already been labeled “Made in USA” before being imported. The original value of the illegal goods here is estimated at around 65,500 US dollars (54,000 euros). Already in the new year 2021, customs in Louisville, Kentucky, seized an additional consignment originating from Vietnam with about 5,800 alleged designer masks, which was addressed to a recipient in North Carolina. The counterfeits infringed the property rights of well-known brands, including Coach, Tory Burke, and Chanel; the value of their original versions is estimated at around 1.4 million US dollars (approx. 1.15 million euros).

Sources: Hauptzollamt Hamburg; Hauptzollamt Dortmund; Guardia di Finanza, CBP