Homeland Security Targets Counterfeit Goods - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Homeland Security Targets Counterfeit Goods

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Panama City, Fla. -

The Department of Homeland Security deals with a variety of issues relating to the safety of our nation. But one threat to our liberty and economy you may not know about is counterfeit goods and intellectual property theft.

They say that looks can be deceiving. Those thinking they're getting a good deal are really being scammed.

"Sometimes they may know they're counterfeit, and other times they may not," said Agent Scott Springer with the Department of Homeland Security. He is a member of ICE, or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

Their mission, especially this holiday season, is to make sure you and the American economy don't get short-changed. Springer says counterfeit goods can make a huge impact.

"$250 billion dollars a year in losses to companies," Springer said. "In addition to that, a loss of 750,000 jobs. It's undermining the US economy and the global economy."

ICE seizes a variety of counterfeit goods from around the country. 

CD's, music, athletic gear," Springer says. "It's not uncommon to see counterfeit Viagra, counterfeit Cialis."

This Christmas, Springer says cyberspace can serve as a winter wonderland for counterfeiters. However, The government is already on the look out.

This past cyber Monday they launched 'Operation In Our Sites,' shutting down 130 web sites selling counterfeit goods. Visitors to the sites were greeted with a message saying it was seized by the government.

"They used certain words like 'replica' or 'cheap' or 'deeply discounted'....[getting] a price break for purchasing bulk quantities...those are things to be wary of," Springer said.

In fiscal year 2012, Springer says Homeland Security has made 691 arrests, of which 423 were indicted and 334 were convicted. All this leading to $896 million in counterfeit merchandise being recovered.

To read more about 'Operation In Our Sites' visit http://www.ice.gov/doclib/news/library/factsheets/pdf/operation-in-our-sites.pdf