Atlanta airport officials warn of seized counterfeit merchandise

- It's the holiday shopping season, and as you're shopping for deals... you'll want to also be extra cautious about fake products.

Last year, the government seized more than $1.3 billion dollars in counterfeit goods. Now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying to get the word out at the nation's busiest airport.

Some people are quick to shrug them off, saying counterfeit goods aren't a big deal, but they have a big impact on the U.S. economy, and they could also be dangerous to you and your family.

In a warehouse by the airport, you'll find hundreds of boxes full of fake goods, seized by cargo inspectors.

"A company manufactures goods and their brand becomes valuable, people who don't work for that company have basically hijacked that brand, put it on items, clothing, watches, this sort of thing and then bring it to the U.S. and sell it as the real thing," says U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director, Carey Davis.

CBP is working to spread the message to travelers that intellectual property rights violations defraud the U.S. economy out of millions and millions of dollars each year.

"The officer showed me through it and it's amazing what they catch, and how they catch it," says traveler Brian Dwight.

"It takes years of training for us to recognize some of these things as counterfeit, others jump right out at you and say there's no way this company produced something of this quality," adds Director Davis.

Included in the presentation are fake Yeti brand cups. They look close to the real thing on the outside, but hiding in the paint is something dangerous.

"We have no idea what manufacturing standards were; we don't know what chemicals were used in the cups particularly. They used lead-based paint that goes right to the rim of the cup so that your lip is actually touching lead-based paint, so it's a huge safety factor," adds Director Davis.

"I do not like stealing other people's inventions, their blood, sweat, and tears and the love that they put into making the product to have somebody steal it," adds Dwight.

During the holiday shopping season, everyone loves a deal but officers warn to pay attention and buy only from known retailers.

"If it seems like a steal, it is. When you know something costs a certain value, and you're getting it for 1/10 of that value or less, then you're certainly not getting the real thing," Director Davis explains.

The CBP Truth Behind Counterfeits campaign also highlights that many times, buying counterfeit products supports illegal activity like money laundering, smuggling, and trafficking guns and drugs. So think about that next time you really want that designer look, without paying the designer price.

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