Feds: Counterfeit goods fund terrorism

It is buyer beware on Canal Street in New York City and beyond. Immigration and Customs officials are warning shoppers this holiday season that if you're going to spend money, make sure you're buying the real thing.

Special Agent in Charge Angel Melendez of Homeland Security Investigations and his counterparts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement spelled it out Kennedy Airport: Don't be a part of the framework of transnational crime.

JFK Airport remains one of the top ports for counterfeiters. This year alone, the feds have arrested 70 people for smuggling fake goods and seized counterfeit items in New York with an MSRP of nearly $50 million.

In 2016, 451 people were arrested nationwide with goods valued at $1.38 billion. Melendez said that this is a $700 billion business that hurts economies, takes away jobs, and is detrimental to tax collection in many countries.

Buying counterfeit goods isn't just bad for business. It is illegal and potentially harmful to your health, especially with the recent rise of fake drugs—some resembling Viagra.

Frank Russo of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that buying counterfeit goods supports criminal activity such as terrorism, money laundering, opioid smuggling, and illegal guns.

So whether it is Gucci, Louis, Celine, or Christian; sneakers, shades, earphones or iPhone; trophies, Tiffany's, watches or World Series rings, these career law enforcement officials warn that intellectual property rights infringement, which is what this really is, amounts to a hidden-pervasive destroyer of our local, state, national and international economies. And no end is in sight.

Officials said the big giveaway with counterfeit goods is the price. If the price point of a product is sometimes a surefire way of knowing whether or not the product is the real thing.