CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ahead of the holiday season, Chicago Customs and Border Protection warned about counterfeit items flooding the market, thousands of which they've already seized.
Tens of thousands of counterfeit items have been catalogued and confiscated by CBP during the start of the holiday season. The agency says $14.6 million worth of phony paraphernalia has been seized so far in 2023, with major implications to the economy.
The fake goods including dubious diamond rings and Rolex watches, and spurious beauty supplies and shoes.
"Some of these items could be entering the stream of commerce to benefit a transnational criminal organization and we do know of some cases where the sale of counterfeit items have gone to support terrorist causes," said Tim Borden, chief supervisory officer for CBP.
Boxes are x-rayed and processed at CBP's O'Hare area sorting facility, uncovering unconvincing imitations.
It's not just a question of items you might want to get for the holiday season; counterfeit injectables and beauty products can also cause serious health hazards.
"Not only will you have your fake items but you'll have fake items that can possibly hurt you and your loved," said CBP Supervisor Robert Holthouse.
If you're buying on the cheap, there's just no way to know what you'll get.
"Depending on the country of origin we really have no way of judging the quality of the product. It's actually very frightening," Borden said. "You're kind of playing with fire taking a really big chance and people might buy this thinking it's a legitimate product until it's too late, until they see the consequences of what it's doing to them."
CBP officers say the best way to know what you're getting is authentic is to buy directly from the manufacturer or reputable outlet. If you're buying online, read the reviews and find a contact number to confirm what you're getting is the real deal.