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KFOX14 Investigates: Counterfeit Christmas

A knockoff might make it under your tree this Christmas because the hottest gifts atop Christmas wish lists often end up in the procession of Homeland Security.

NFL jerseys, Yeti tumblers, designer make-up and perfume are all popular items that may be on your Christmas list.

But KFOX14 Investigates learned they’re also on the list of items seized in El Paso because they're fake.

Counterfeits are coming to town.

“This is the season for certain items,” Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations, said.

The merchandise is coming across the border and being sold over the internet.

A knockoff might make it under your tree this Christmas because the hottest gifts atop Christmas wish lists often end up in the procession of Homeland Security.

“There’s many dangers,” Rodriguez said.

Homeland Security investigators showed KFOX14 Investigates just some of the fakes they've seized in El Paso.

“NFL merchandise, jerseys, beanies,” Rodriguez said, mentioning some of the popular counterfeit items.

In workshops somewhere in the world, counterfeit elves cranked out NFL merchandise, from jerseys to beanies, and cosmetics like Selena perfume which is definitely not made by MAC and tons of electronics, along with knock-off designer bags, Nike shoes and even wanna-be Yetis.

Agents said here in El Paso they've seized more than a million dollars worth of phony products in less than three months.

And HSI said our economy loses $600 billion to $700 billion due to counterfeiting.

Agents said the thieves have changed the game. You use to be able to spot a fake because of a lower price.

“Not anymore,” Rodriguez said. Agents said now knockoffs often cost as much as the real stuff and the faux merchandise has found a new marketplace

“The merchants online are popular, it doesn’t matter where you are,” Rodriguez said.

But behind the fake goods are real dangers.

“Counterfeit is not a standalone victimless crime,” Rodriguez said.

Knock-off make-up, perfume and other phony products are often made out of unsafe materials and fake electronics have also injured owners.

Investigators said El Pasoans have ended up in the hospital because of these bad products.

“You are risking your health,” Rodriguez said.

Plus homeland security agents said the money you shell out for a knock off Louis Vuitton or knock-off Cowboys jersey often goes to fund criminal organizations and in some cases, terrorists.

“It is placing our national security at risk,” Rodriguez said.

So if you're still searching for that perfect present,

agents recommend: looking for reputable sellers, be wary of independent sellers and flea markets, and watch out for online sites.

“Avoid social media sites that are pushing ads to them,” Rodriguez said.

If you rip open a gift on Christmas and realize, it’s a rip-off. Agents said try to get your money back from the vendor or turn in the not so nice vendor to the naughty list.

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