Homeland Security Warns Of Holiday Gift Scams In South Florida

Nov 25, 2014

Homeland Security Investigations held a press conference Tuesday morning in Doral, warning South Floridians about this year’s holiday shopping season.

They asked consumers to exercise caution as they gift shop for loved ones because some bargains are just too good to be true.

Counterfeit items that imitate Michael Kors watches and Vera Wang perfumes were confiscated in South Florida by Homeland Security.
Credit Jessica Meszaros / WLRN

Robert Hutchinson is a deputy special agent for Homeland Security. He spoke to the local press in a room filled with merchandise that, when put together, would be worth about $35 million - if it were all authentic.

The items, from G-Shock watches to Beats By Dre headphones to Miami Dolphins caps, were all confiscated in South Florida.

"The criminals are using store fronts, the internet, or they may just be selling it out of a flea market or the back of their car," said Hutchinson. "They become very skilled that you may not be able to tell that something is counterfeit."

He says people are drawn to these counterfeit gifts because of their lower prices when compared to the legitimate prices.

Some of the items are even a potential threat to people’s safety, like perfumes that cause skin rashes and toys that contain excessive amounts of lead.

Some Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins memorabilia was declared unauthentic by Homeland Security.
Credit Jessica Meszaros / WLRN

"We encountered counterfeit batteries that leak very quickly," said Hutchinson. "We also encountered things such as extension cords or Christmas lights that are not truly UL certified and are a danger to bring into your house."

Hutchinson asks that if you suspect your holiday gifts to be fakes, contact your local police agency. But he ensures that Homeland Security will be watching extra closely for counterfeits starting on Black Friday through the holiday season.