Shipments of fake AirPods valued at $331,360 seized in Louisville by federal officers

·2 min read

Eight shipments of suspected fake AirPods from Hong Kong were intercepted in Louisville recently, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a set of tips to avoid counterfeit goods.

In total, officers found 817 pairs of earbuds labeled as “Bluetooth audio devices” that appeared to violate the protected trademark for Apple AirPods, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP. The shipments were coming from Hong Kong and headed for Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey, according to CBP. Some were also headed to Canada.

The design of the headphones was identical to the Apple AirPods configuration trademark, and the product would not have to be labeled as being made by Apple to be considered in violation of the trademark, according to CBP.

The fake AirPods would have had a retail value of about $331,360 if they were genuine, according to CBP.

“E-commerce is a growing segment of the U.S. economy, driven by high-volume, low-value shipments entering our ports of entry,” Louisville port director Thomas Mahn said in the release. “Our officers are committed to protecting our citizens and enforcing U.S. laws to make sure legal trade continues but illicit shipments like this one do not reach unsuspecting consumers.”

Fake AirPods have been seized at other ports in recent weeks, including a shipment of 36,000 and another shipment of 23,900 in Cincinnati that would have been valued in the millions if they were genuine, according to CBP. Most of the fake AirPods can pair with actual Apple phones and devices, which could cause issues with those devices.

“Counterfeiters are savvy and follow trends in consumer demand, including the high demand for consumer electronics during the pandemic,” said John P. Leonard, CBP acting executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Trade. “Consumers should exercise extreme caution when purchasing wireless headphones and other electronic accessories from third parties, as counterfeit electronics from China have been found to contain malware that infects the consumer’s phone, tablet, or computer.”

CBP recommends purchasing goods directly from trademark holders or authorized retailers, reading seller reviews online and looking for working U.S. phone numbers or valid addresses when making online purchases to avoid counterfeit scams.