DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- A Danville mom who paid more than 50% above retail for a pair of popular sneakers suspects she may have bought counterfeit Nikes. The feds warn the issue may be more common than you suspect.
They say the amount of counterfeit products seized annually exceeded $1 billion in the most recent report from authorities. Here's what you can do to protect yourself.
Jessica Brillant examines a pair of Nikes she bought online.
As soon as she took them out of the box, her son flagged them.
"He was looking at them and he was kind of like, 'Mom, I think, I'm not entirely sure. These kind of look fake,'" Brillant said.
She found several videos on YouTube advising consumers how to tell fake Nikes from real ones. The problem with counterfeits is apparently so pervasive these videos have hundreds of thousands of views.
They advise to look at the stitching and the embroidery and if you find flaws, it's likely counterfeit.
"It's kind of hard to see, but there are these stitching here on the heels, they're not equally spaced," Brillant told 7 On Your Side.
Holding the shoes under a blacklight at home, she says she found more issues.
"When you shine the black light, you can see die-cut lines -- UV die-cut lines -- on where the black leather should be lining up," Brillant said.
Homeland Security Investigations can't confirm her shoes are fake. But they have offered to look into it and confirm flaws in quality and workmanship are good indicators something may be counterfeit.
"The most telling feature of these counterfeit Nikes is the quality, right? The stitching is off," said Tatum King of Homeland Security Investigations.
Federal authorities seize more athletic shoes than any other counterfeited items except handbags and wallets, which top the list and are followed by clothing and accessories.
The latest statistics show that in fiscal year 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized $1.3 billion worth of counterfeits.
"You should care, number one, because you want to buy quality. If you're spending your hard-earned dollars, especially now in a challenging economic environment, you want to make sure you buy a product that lasts," King said.
Brillant says she tried to return the shoes back for a full refund, but the website refused to accept the return three different times.
With the help of 7 On Your Side, she received a charge back from her credit card company.
Now she has a pair of what she calls "free fakes."
"The arch support actually hurts. So they're definitely not built the same," Brillant said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection tells us the counterfeiters have gotten quite good, but manufacturers have shared with them proprietary information to help agents identify the fakes. They advise you only buy from websites you both know and trust.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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