In a nondescript warehouse in Chesapeake, nearly 5,000 karaoke machines are sitting in a cage.
They won’t make it to homes in time to be opened on Christmas.
But they aren’t just any karaoke machines — they are illegal and counterfeit. And they were seized by the feds with the help of companies like Amazon.
The partnership is called “Operation Fulfilled Action” to stop counterfeit goods from entering the country. It includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
A company will tip off law enforcement if it suspects products are counterfeit.
The karaoke machines have counterfeit labeling and will likely be destroyed. They came from China and were heading to consumers who purchased them on Amazon, said Jim Stitzel, an assistant special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations in Norfolk.
Officials are warning shoppers to be wary of what they buy when shopping for holiday presents online. The issue of counterfeit goods being sold through sites like Amazon doesn’t just happen more around the holidays; it has become more common in general because so much more shopping has been done online since the pandemic began.
“Do your due diligence,” Stitzel said. “Do your research, read reviews. Look at where the product is coming from.”
The consumer gets stuck with the short end of the stick when they don’t get their product and have to go on a wild goose chase to get a refund.
Another tip from the feds: if a price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
“Counterfeit karaoke machines are the tip of the iceberg,” Stitzel said.
“Criminals also traffic in counterfeit medications, counterfeit automotive parts and counterfeit micro-components destined for use in military platforms that threaten the health and safety of the American public.”
(c) 2020 The Virginian-Pilot
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