$210m-worth of fake Hermès handbags seized in US

Fake Hermes bagsUS customs have seized more than 16,000 counterfeit Hermès purses and handbags that could have fetched about $211m at genuine retail prices.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted nine separate shipments from China and Hong Kong at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex in an operation between June 6 and September 17.

The fakes are thought to have been destined for sale in southern California retailers, and would probably have been worth less than $300,000 at domestic street prices.

A $14m shipment of fake Hermès bags was seized at the same port in February 2013 (see picture). Typically genuine Hermes bags - such as the iconic Birkin line - sell for between $9,000 and $18,000, said LA/LB's assistant port director Elva Muneton in a report.

Last year, Hermès won $100m in damages from 34 websites that sold counterfeit copies of its products including Birkin and Kelly handbags, wallets, watches, belts and jewelry, while a Chinese national received a life sentence for running an operation making fake Hermès products in Dongguan, Guangzhou province.

Financial awards of this type are mostly symbolic however, as it is difficult to track down money from typically fragmented distribution networks, although cash held in Paypal and other online accounts is generally forfeited.

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