Federal agents announced Wednesday they have seized thousands of counterfeit items including clothing, purses and perfume in the Twin Cities.
In the last week, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 17,000 items from 21 Twin Cities-area businesses. The items include everything from counterfeit brand name perfumes, purses and sunglasses to football jerseys with fake signatures from Joe Mauer and Brett Favre.
The value of the items is estimated at $643,000 dollars.
ICE special agent Claude Arnold said consumers should be on the look out for counterfeit items, especially this time of year.
"Generally, we say if the price is too good to be true, it's too good to be true," Arnold said. "Generally, these items are about a third of the actual price."
Arnold said counterfeiting costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars a year and often funnels money to organized crime groups. And in the case of perfume and batteries, Arnold said counterfeit items can pose a health risk to consumers.
"We don't know what's in that perfume," he said. "We don't know what the chemical makeup of that perfume is. In past cases, there have been instances where counterfeit perfume has contained benzene, which is a carcinogen."
Two weeks ago ICE agents seized counterfeit purses, clothing and other items from three businesses in Duluth.