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Cyber Monday Alert: “Spearfishing” Avoid counterfeit sites and products

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“Saving a buck to show Seahawks pride is not worth risking your health or putting money in the pockets of organized crime,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. “Criminal organizations are using slick web design and discount prices to fool consumers into buying counterfeit products, from sports jerseys to exercise equipment to medication. These are almost always substandard products made with cheap materials that can expose consumers to high levels of harmful chemicals and heavy metals.”

Efforts to protect consumers from counterfeit goods and internet scams have had some success:


  • In 2012, HSI and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 22,848 shipments worth more than $1.26 billion in manufacturer’s suggested retail prices.


  • In 2012, 72 percent, or $906 million, of the counterfeit seizures by ICE and CBP originated in China.  Handbags and wallets were the top commodities seized and the value of these seizures increased more than 140 percent from FY 2011.


  • The fake merchandise and the bogus websites look very authentic.  The prices are not ridiculously low, just slightly discounted.  Even a savvy consumer might not realize he or she is being duped.  Sadly, these are the new tricks of the counterfeiting trade. 


If you think you have been the target of an internet scam report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), at  The complaints help analysts identify leads and patterns from the hundreds of complaints that are received daily.  The IC3 then refers the complaints, along with their analyses, to the relevant law enforcement agency for follow-up.


The public can learn about other common scams by visiting, and learn about ways to reduce their risk of being scammed:


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