Customs and Border Protection officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex in California have prevented more than $31 million of counterfeit designer perfume bottles from being imported to the U.S. in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.
Although the Department of Homeland Security agency is often associated with apprehending illegal immigrants and narcotics on land and sea, its southern California region is known as the headquarters for fake fragrances.
Between Oct. 1, 2017, and Jan. 31, officers found 475,056 bottles of perfume it said were meant to replicate 34 luxury brand products, according to a press release issued on the eve of Valentine's Day.
The brands included Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Coach, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Guess, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Versace, and Victoria Secret.
"Upon first glance you see the name brand packaging, both box and perfume bottle have colors resembling those of the genuine products. Oftentimes the perfumes state they are manufactured in France to emphasize a more luxurious product, but upon closer look, they are actually made in China," CBP wrote in a statement.
Counterfeit fragrances pose a risk to public health because the liquid is absorbed by the body once sprayed onto the skin. If a perfume is made with hazardous chemicals, the user could become sick from exposure.
CBP said from Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016, pharmaceutical and personal care items made up 8 percent of the total number of products seized in Fiscal Year 2016.
The agency apprehended $1.4 billion worth of counterfeit goods that fiscal year. The biggest producers of fake products are China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and Cambodia.