When it comes to total dollar value, consumer electronics make up the bulk of counterfeit goods imported into the U.S., according to Customs and Border Protection. Among the hottest items: smart phones, tablet computers and DVD or music players.
While some items are clearly fakes, in some cases, even technophiles will have a hard time telling a phony from an iPhone. "We seized one tablet that looks like an iPad, but ran on an Android operating system -- that was pretty easy to figure out. With others, the look and feel is very, very similar," said Therese Randazzo, director of IPR policy and programs for the CBP.
Variations can be as subtle as the placement of the on/off switch or the color of the button, Randazzo said. She recommends referring to the product ID guide for specifications, which can typically be found on the manufacturer's site. An even safer bet: Purchase the electronics from authorized retailers.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Customs and Border Protection seized 25,000 counterfeit goods in 2011. The agency actually seized 25,000 shipments of counterfeit goods.
For the Super Bowl, federal agents prepped for the largest sporting-goods related counterfeit bust ever.
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