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How Can You Tell If A Gift Is Counterfeit? [AUDIO]

As you’re heading out to finish up you’re holiday shopping, federal agents are urging you to be aware of counterfeit items.

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

“We’re trying to protect the consumer from inferior goods and we’re also trying to protect American jobs and trademark holders by preventing counterfeited goods from reaching United States markets,” said Andrew McLees, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “With all of the hard work that companies put into designing and making a product, they deserve to earn the benefit of that.”

“There are many items that are counterfeit that can pose a public safety risk. Whether it’s inferior lighting, extension cords that can cause a risk of fire, inferior makeup that could cause damage to your skin or software that can corrupt computers, we don’t have one thing we focus on this time of year. But we do try to bring awareness to the fact that there are a lot of websites offering goods at prices that are just too good to be true and when it’s too good to be true, it’s just that,” said McLees. “If you need affirmation, when you look at a website and you start looking further into the particular site, you will start to see areas that will jump out at you like misspellings, poor grammar, improper capitalization and things like that.”

How can you tell if the source you’re purchasing from is legitimate?

“Generally, if you’re buying from a street vendor or a flea market or online from a website that does not look reputable, then you’re probably buying a counterfeit item,” said McLees. “If you’re shopping in a mall or in a known store or venue that is licensed to sell those goods, in almost all cases, you’ll be ok.”

“Our goal is to make arrests and dismantle organizations, but most of these organizations are centered overseas, so we generally target online vendors who are selling counterfeit goods and we seize the domains judicially,” said McLees. “So, if someone is selling counterfeit goods, we’ll get a warrant to take that domain name off the internet and close it.”

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