CBP’s Buffalo field office stops millions of dollars in fakes every year

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Millions of Americans will be throwing on their favorite NFL jersey for Super Bowl Sunday. But unless they bought theirs at a reputable retailer, there’s a good chance that $100 to $200 jersey is worth a lot less. 

Tens of thousands of products like sports jerseys are confiscated at 16 international ports of entry in New York State, representing millions of dollars in fakes every year. 

It’s not just fooling people with worthless products — it’s a big way criminal organizations make their money. 

A tractor-trailer hauling contents unknown from Canada slowed to a halt early Friday morning at the Peace Bridge crossing, one of the hundreds that will drive through primary inspection on this day. And what may seem like the first step in getting commercial goods across an international border, is actually far more complicated. 

It starts with a Customs and Border Protection officer expecting the shipment, with paperwork needing to be in order and the driver needing to have a clean record.

“Before they even get there, we’re going to have some information on that commodity that’s coming in,” said Giorgio Fuda, a supervisor in public affairs with the CBP’s Buffalo Field Office. “If it’s done correctly, we should have information prior to them even getting there.”

From November 2023: 4 men caught illegally crossing U.S.-Canada border, CBP issues warning amid cold weather

CBP’s Buffalo Field Office includes 16 ports of entry between the U.S. and Canada in New York State — all international crossings outside of New York City. 

Each year, they account for more than 1 million commercial crossings, the nation’s second in northern border traffic behind Detroit. And each year, they’re taking millions of dollars in counterfeit goods off the streets — so consumers don’t get duped. 

The products represent a wide range from simple plastic toys to a supposed diamond-encrusted Cartier watch, which retails for close to $700,000, or supposed precious metals. 

CBP keeps these items out of local stores. But most importantly, they keep the profits out of the hands of criminal organizations. 

 “When you’re purchasing these items, counterfeit items, or things that are violating IPR by any standards, you’re funding inadvertently criminal organizations that are producing these items for sale,” Fuda said. “And they’re cutting corners to make the highest profit possible.”

For more information on how CBP works to protect Intellectual Property Rights, click here.

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Dave Greber is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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