Friday, December 7, 2012

ICE leads holiday effort to help Santa bust crime

Image by Jacob Windham from Mobile, USA ( – image description page) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The holiday season gift-giving opens up a rich opportunity for crime to vendors of counterfeit and pirated merchandise. To help Santa --and the public-- sort out what's naughty from what's nice in the merchandise arena, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is kicking off Operation Holiday Hoax.

Operation Holiday Hoax is a joint governmental effort to spot imitation branded gifts.

A wide-sweeping project, Operation Holiday Hoax targets stores, flea markets and swap meets--any effort involved in the importation, distribution and selling of counterfeit and pirated products. Like Santa's sleigh, it will cover cities across the United States as well as in Mexico. Additionally, CBP officers will conduct inspections and seize counterfeit merchandise at U.S. ports of entry.

Since counterfeiting and piracy is a worldwide phenomenon, the U.S.-led effort is international. Working jointly with Mexico, according to IPR Center Director Lev Kubiak, demonstrates collaboration in the global cause of snuffing out counterfeit merchandise. And that, he says, helps U.S. jobs.

"Together, we will continue to deliver blow after blow to criminals worldwide making a positive impact on American jobs here at home," stated Kubiak.

Operation Holiday Hoax, led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE)Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) IPR Center, is a collaborative project partnering U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the government of Mexico.

This is the third year that the IPR Center has conducted Operation Holiday Hoax. Last year's operation rounded up more than 327,000 counterfeit and pirated items, totaling an estimated $76.8 million in manufacturer's suggested retail price worth. This bested the 2009 operation which netted more than $26 million worth of seized goods.

Last year, Mexico's parallel effort seized 23.8 million counterfeit and pirated items including 10 tons of used clothing, cigarettes, electronics, tools and DVD's. The estimated value of the seized goods was $7.1 million.

Holiday Hoax will run until Dec. 26. Perfume, holiday lights, electronics, clothing and DVDs are some of the potential gift and holiday items on which it will focus. Most of these items are ordered online during the holiday shopping season, says ICE.


Barbara Mcpherson said...

Counterfeit goods drain a huge amount of money away from those who create/design the goods. We have had a local incident where an artist has had her designs pirated and used on coasters made in China. The irony is, they were being offered for sale at the BC gov't ferry terminal. The US has good laws in place protecting the images of the indigenous people too.

Billie Greenwood said...

I'm always impressed by your wide-ranging knowledge, Barbara. Well, the U.S. is pretty good at protecting capitalism, and this is a good example.