$210 million in counterfeit handbags seized

Sept. 26, 2013 at 7:55 PM
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RIVERSIDE, Calif., Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Federal officials in California said Thursday agents seized more than 16,000 counterfeit Hermes purses and handbags that could have sold for about $210 million.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the port in Los Angeles and Long Beach intercepted more than 16,000 fake bags in nine shipments from China and Hong Kong between June 6 and Sept. 17, The Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reported.

The purses and handbags, if they had been authentic and sold legitimately, carried an aggregate suggested retail price of $210.8 million, the newspaper said.

The contraband was being warehouse at a Department of Homeland Security seized property facility in Riverside, the report said.

Hermes bags sell for as much as $9,400 to $18,000 apiece, said Elva Muneton, assistant port director of trade.

Muneton said people who buy counterfeit handbags for less "think they're probably getting a deal," but she noted the fakes may be made of plastic, rather than leather, and are poorly sewn.

The phony bags are to be destroyed after the criminal investigation is completed.

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