Feds warn of fakes after recent counterfeit bust at Cupertino flea market

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KGO) -- There is a major warning for shoppers after federal agents have made a bust of high-end counterfeit items in the South Bay. Earlier this month at the De Anza College flea market, they seized more than $500,000 in fake merchandise.

Purses, jewelry, sports jerseys, hats and shoes are just a sampling of the more than 900 counterfeit items seized at the De Anza College Flea Market on the first Saturday of November. Based on retails prices, the loot is worth $530,000.

"Just like the trademark holders, we also value our brand integrity and so we want to make sure when folks come to our flea market on our campus that they're getting the products they're paying for," Foothill-De Anza Police Department Chief Ronald Levine said.

On top of a consumer getting an inferior product, Immigration and Customs officials say the counterfeit industry also takes away American jobs and can have health and safety repercussions.

"It's not regulated like other products. We know that cosmetics and perfumes have had toxic and caustic ingredients in them. We know that the wearing apparel doesn't have the same anti-flammable procedures on them," Kit Welsh from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement said.

So how can you avoid the fakes? Poor quality is the most obvious way to tell if a product is counterfeit. When you look at a Louis Vuitton fake, you can see imperfections in the stitching and if all else fails, there's the smell test. If it's supposed to be leather, it should smell like leather.

It's best to buy from reputable retailers and websites.

"Flea markets and places like that are not a good place to buy luxury items," Welsh said.

Something to remember for your holiday shopping and as the Super Bowl draws near in the Bay Area. Officials expect a surge in counterfeit team gear and tickets.

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