Up close, it may be hard to tell a real Hermes Birkin from a knockoff version. But all the handbags on display at a Riverside warehouse on Thursday were fakes.
"Our officers are trained by the various internal systems that we have and the trademark owners to look for types of things and those anomalies," said Elva Muneton with U.S. Customs and Border Protections.
Since June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have seized more than 16,000 of the counterfeit purses from nine different importers. The shipments all entered through the Los Angeles-Long Beach Sea Port from China and Hong Kong.
Muneton said the bags probably would have ended up at a swap meet or small downtown Los Angeles shops.
Genuine Hermes bags cost thousands to own. Had these bags been real, they would be worth over $200 million. Customs officials say these counterfeits would have fetched about $300,000 on the street.
"I honestly think that when you know what a genuine Hermes bag costs and when you buy something like these, you probably know you are buying a counterfeit," said Muneton.
The importers of the counterfeit bags are looking at paying hefty fines.
"The penalty amount that goes with importing counterfeit merchandise is pretty much based on the MSRP of the merchandise. So for example, all this is about $210 million, so the penalties that will be assessed will amount to something to that amount," Muneton said.
These Hermes look-a-likes won't be dangling from the arms of would be buyers. Instead, they'll be destroyed.