DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Consumer and government agencies are cracking down on what they deem a “counterfeit” epidemic.
The Better Business Bureau, along with agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, held a news conference Tuesday in Dallas to release its findings on the counterfeit goods industry.
Online purchases were the second-riskiest scam in 2018, according to the BBB’s Institute for Marketplace Trust.
Spokeswoman Phyllisia Clark said one in four people who shop online will fall victim to counterfeit schemes.
“This issue affects everyone,” Clark said.
Myra Miller, of Wylie, Texas, knows firsthand.
Yellowstone is one of Myra Miller’s favorite television shows. So when she saw the character, Rip Wheeler, sporting a black jacket, she knew she had to own it.
“The reason I wanted the jacket is for my farming,” Miller said. “I work outside a lot of times, it’s a lightweight jacket, it looks like a lightweight jacket, but sturdy and rugged.”
Miller found the website, CelebJackets.com, selling the same coat. She paid $109.
Twelve weeks later, what Miller received was a far cry from Hollywood. It was also a far cry from a jacket.
“It’s like a shirt,” Miller said. “It is not a jacket.”
Instead, Miller received a counterfeit.
In one study conducted by the Government Accountability Office in 2018, researchers ordered from popular websites like Amazon, Walmart and E-Bay and chose third-party sellers with good reviews and U.S. addresses.
They bought Air Jordan sneakers, phone chargers, Yeti mugs and Urban Decay makeup.
While all of shoes and 90 percent of the chargers proved to be real, most of the Yetis and all of the makeup was fake.
“Any brand name product made throughout the world has already probably been counterfeited,” said Cynthia Manning, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations.
U.S. Customs seized roughly $1 billion in counterfeit products just in 2017, according to agent Raul Orona, who spoke at the news conference.
But knock-offs can also pose a health risk.
Government agents said consumers should beware of counterfeit pharmaceuticals sold online. Even perfume can be dangerous.
Dora Lowe said she purchased what she thought was an authentic brand of perfume–until the product gave her an allergic reaction.
“Unfortunately, a lot of times, they are using cat urine to actually achieve that color,” Manning said.
To sniff out a fake, research the website before you purchase the product.
Go to the “about” section and check for typos. Then, verify the physical address and phone number.
The most common places where scammers hock counterfeit goods are Instagram and Facebook.
To read the BBB’s report on counterfeit goods, click here.