Counterfeit Goods

Information and statistics about counterfeiting and the sale of counterfeit goods. Estimated losses from counterfeits, markets where fake goods are sold, and other piracy statistics are collected from criminal justice programs and public information sources.

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that counterfeit airbags that can be installed in 0.1 percent of the entire vehicle fleet in the country, or about 250,000 cars on the road. Around tens of thousands of the counterfeit airbags are believed to have been installed in vehicles.

Vehicles that have had their airbag replaced at a repair shop instead of the dealer are at high-risk of having a counterfeit airbag installed.

In August 2012, police seized nearly 1,600 counterfeit airbags from an auto mechanic in North Carolina. The counterfeit auto parts ring that was broken up was buying fake airbags from a plant in China, where the bags were being sold for $50 to $70 each. Authorities say that an authentic airbag costs much higher.

In the first 9 months of 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized around 2,500 counterfeit airbags in the United States.

Source:  Associated Press, “Counterfeit air bags called ‘extreme safety risk’,” Google News, October 10, 2012.

A legitimate iPhone 5 is sold in retail stores in Vietnam for $959 (20 Million Vietnamese Dong). A counterfeit version of the iPhone5 made in China is available for purchase in Vietnam for $28 (600,000 VND). A counterfeit version of the iPhone 4S is available for $43 (900,000 VND).

There are other types of counterfeit smartphones and tablets available for sale in Vietnam. A legitimate Nokia N9 smartphone retails for $479 (10 Million VND). The counterfeit version of the smartphone is sold for 471 (1.5 Million VND).

A Samsung Galaxy Note Tablet is sold in retail stores for $767 (16 Million VND). The counterfeit version of the tablet, called the A9-3G, is sold for $43 (4.4 Million VND).

Source:  “Chinese counterfeit smart phones dirt cheap, but unsalable,” VietnamNet Bridge, October 9, 2012.

In a six month time period in 2012, police seized 2,600 packages of counterfeit drugs entering the city of Vancouver. In addition, one man was caught smuggling 6,000 counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills in British Columbia.

Source:  “Organized crime behind fake pills entering Canada,” CBC News, October4, 2012.

An Interpol operation in September / October 2012 involving 100 countries seized an estimated $10.5 Million worth of counterfeit drugs. About 18,000 websites that were selling fake drugs were shut down during the week long campaign, along with 3.7 million doses of counterfeit drugs.

United States Law Enforcement officials shut down 686 websites within their jurisdiction for selling counterfeit medicines.

Source:  Grant Gross, “US agencies seize 686 websites accused of selling fake drugs,” Computerworld, October 4, 2012.

According to a report by musicmetric, more people in the United States purchased music in the first half of 2012 than illegally downloading music using BitTorrent.

150.5 million CDs and album downloads were sold from January to June 2012. In comparison, 75.6 million albums were downloaded using BitTorrent during the same time period.

698 million songs were purchased by Americans during the first half of the year, while 21.3 million songs were downloaded using BitTorrent.

Source:  Ethan Smith, “Americans Buy More Music Than They Pirate,” Wall Street Journal, Corporate Intelligence Blog, October 3, 2012.


Custom Officials in Yemen state that the country losses up to 90 percent of customs revenue due to the counterfeiting of documents.

Officials state that traders and importers create fake purchase agreements and sale bills and lists the value of their products at 10 percent of their original prices in order to evade taxes and fees.

Source:  “Counterfeiting a big business at Yemen’s ports,” albawaba, October 3, 2012.

The Recording Industry Association of Japan reported that 4.36 billion files of music and video was illegally downloaded in the country in 2010. During that year, 440 million media files were purchased in Japan.

Source:  “Japan introduces piracy penalties for illegal downloads,” BBC News, September 30, 2012.

According to an investigation into counterfeit cosmetics by the Daily Mail, a counterfeit MAC eyeliner bought on Amazon was found to have contained 46 times the acceptable level of copper in the eyeliner. The high level of copper makes the eyeliner unacceptable for use on eyes.

The counterfeit eyeliner was bought for $5.60 (£3.50) online, when the normal retail price for a MAC eyeliner is $22 (£14).

Source:  Charlotte Kemp, “The toxic trade in fake make-up: How counterfeit cosmetics containing dangerous levels of arsenic are being sold online to unsuspecting bargain hunters,” Daily Mail, September 30, 2012.

United States based cap maker New Era reported losing $300 Million a year in sales to foreign companies selling counterfeit baseball caps. In 2011, the company seized 850,000 counterfeit versions of its baseball caps in 298 factories in Brazil, China and Vietnam.

According to company officials, only 30 to 40 percent of the counterfeit market in baseball caps are being seized.

It was previously reported that New Era spends $1.5 Million per year on anti-counterfeiting operations and staff.

(See all losses to clothing companies from replicas.)

Source:  James Fink, “New Era battles counterfeit cap makers,” Buffalo Business First, September 21, 2012.

In the US State of Florida, a human trafficking investigation by officials discovered over 80 massage therapists who obtained fake and fraudulent massage theory licensees.

The women were reported to have paid between $10,000 to $15,000 to obtain fake college certificates and transcripts.

(Prices to buy fake diploma certificates online.)

Source:  Brett Clarkson, “Over 80 massage therapists in trafficking probe used fake credentials from same college, say regulators,” Sun Sentinel, September 20, 2012.