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Knock-off, illegal gift seizures at DIA increase as holidays approach

Counterfeit phones, Broncos jerseys among items
Posted at 2:50 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 00:28:10-05

DENVER -- If you think you found an exceedingly good deal on a new cell phone or Broncos jersey, there's a chance it's a counterfeit and will end up being seized at Denver International Airport.

Contact7 had an opportunity to go inside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection operation at the airport as it weeds out knock-off, cheap, low-quality garbage gifts and goods that make their way from foreign countries to Denver's port of entry.

"Anything that's entering the United States, we're allowed to look at it," U.S. Customs officer Robert Rimmer said.

He's been a Customs officers for 11 years -- six years in Denver and five years in Dallas.

"Jerseys are a big issue coming in," he said, holding up a bogus Broncos jersey while pointing to its flaws.  "You get threads that are just sticking out there."

Lately, he said counterfeit cell phones and cell phone batteries have been problematic. In one case, he said a seemingly real Samsung phone was identified as a counterfeit because it failed to state where it was made.

"Any product that's coming into the United States has to have on there, by law, a label saying where it came from," Rimmer said, holding up a phone. "This one doesn't."

U.S. Customs staff in Denver say roughly 500 foreign packages arrive daily at DIA. Roughly 20 to 30 packages are seized every month, they say, for containing counterfeits.

Even large furniture, such as an antique table from the United Kingdom, is reviewed to make sure it appears to be what shipping paperwork says it is.

"We're looking for the wear and tear that shows this is an antique like they've told us," Rimmer said.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will check to make sure a package doesn't contain any bugs -- tiny stowaways that could wreak havoc on our environment. They will sometimes find snails nestled between stacks of tiles from foreign countries.

Altogether, Customs officers are working to make sure people and U.S. products aren't harmed -- "Anything that is coming in that somebody's going to spend good money for and not get the value that they're trying to get," Rimmer said.