Don’t Believe Your Eyes

Studies and seizure statistics are showing that the business of trafficking dangerous fakes is alive and growing rapidly. According to the U.S. Customs and Bureau Protection last year alone we experienced a 44% increase in seizures for health and safety products, valued at more than $60 million.

Well, that number just got bigger. This week, U.S. law enforcement seized $18 million in counterfeit contact lenses and merchandise destined for our very own medicine cabinets, and eventually, our eyes. Imagine putting something in your eyes that was commissioned by criminals and may not meet even basic health and safety standards. In previous cases, fake contact lenses have been contaminated by bacteria or contained misplaced pigments, which could cause eye infections or damage to your eyesight.

Contact lenses are just one drop in the bucket of dangerous fakes. Recently we’ve witnessed a fake auto parts ring in North Carolina and counterfeit diabetes testing strips in Florida. There’s no shortage of criminals who are packaging dangerous fakes to look like authentic, trusted products.

This is precisely why the U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center recently launched its Dangerous Fakes advertisement in Times Square. We recognize that consumers need to be aware that counterfeiting reaches far beyond commonly known counterfeit goods such as handbags or shoes. These fakes can make it into our automobiles, into our medicine cabinets, or eventually into our bodies. Do you think counterfeiters care if your airbag doesn’t work? Or if you lose your sight? Or if you fail to identify a spike in your blood sugar? In order to maximize their illicit profits, they ignore laws and health and safety standards, so is there any chance they’d take accountability for their substandard products?

If you think about it, there’s really no upside to counterfeiting. It jeopardizes public health and safety, undermines respected and well-trusted brands, takes an axe to the jobs of people who work for the legitimate companies, and hurts the American economy. The problem is mushrooming, so we must be smart as consumers and smart as policymakers to tackle the business of dangerous fakes.

For more information on the Dangerous Fakes advertisement and promotion, please visit

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