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Homeland Security's raid nets millions in counterfeit goods

November 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations discovered thousands of dollars worth of fake designer goods inside a home in Newport Beach.

The search is part of a six month crackdown called "Operation Fashion Faux Pas," which has searched nearly 20 businesses so far.

Federal agents have seized $1 million worth of counterfeit goods including everything from Louis Vuitton wallets, to Hermes bags, and Chanel jewelry.

It's become progressively harder to tell what's fake and what's real that agents say they now rely on experts.

According to Claude Arnold of Homeland Security Investigations, other counterfeit items are clearly fake.

"It clearly doesn't feel like leather," Arnold said holding a Chanel counterfeit purse. "If you smell it, it smells like plastic."

While a real Chanel bag retails for about $1,000, a counterfeit one could sell for as low as $50.

Inauthentic MAC cosmetics have also been seized in the investigation. According to agents, the problem with the counterfeit items is consumers don't really know what kind of ingredients the cosmetics are made of.

"They could be buying a product which could be harmful to themselves," said Arnold. "When you're buying from a legitimate retailer and they're the legitimate good, you know what's in it. They're regulated by the US government. If you're buying counterfeit goods, you don't know what the chemicals are."

Authorities say they hope consumers realize buying counterfeit goods also hurts legitimate businesses.

While the fake stuff may look real, some people refuse to take any chances.

"Personally for me, I may like it," said Lolita Peck of Huntington Beach, "but in my mind, I like the real thing."


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