Customs officials warn of counterfeit, stolen packages during holiday season

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CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — ‘Tis the season for gifts and packages, many coming from overseas — but some of these parcels will never make it to their final destination.

“If you’re waiting for something on Christmas day to arrive and we’ve seized it then you’re going to be upset, especially if it’s something you bought for a loved one or child — whatever the case may be,” said Steve Bansbach with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol,

CBP agents are busy this holiday season — one of the largest international inspection hubs sits next to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and takes mail directly as it enters the country.

“Counterfeit handbags, wallets, eyeglasses, sunglasses apparel, footwear — whatever you want to list we’ve probably seen it before,” said Bansbach.

Also sportswear: like hats, coats, jerseys and a lot of firearms.

It’s not just holiday gifts — thieves are taking advantage of fears related to the pandemic. If CBP seizes something you’ve ordered, there will be no refunds but you’ll be notified.

“We’ve seized 13.5 million counterfeit face masks, 177,000 fake COVID-19 tests and then we have 6,000 tablets of unapproved antibiotics or vaccines. When we seize something we do send out letters to let someone know that it has been seized or that we had to take it,” Bansbach said.

Here’s how to protect yourself and your wallet:

“If it’s too good to be true then it probably isn’t true. You need to make sure it’s from a reputable retailer, see if they have a stateside phone number because if they do than obviously you can make that call and talk to someone live,” Bansbach said.

CBP agents say catching fakes is important because it’s estimated close to 750,000 jobs are lost every year due to counterfeits being manufactured overseas.

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