Officials warn of scams ahead of holiday shopping season

ICE agents urge customers to beware of scams

DETROIT – Officials from ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit are urging customers to beware of scams and counterfeit items while shopping this holiday season.

Matthew Stentz, an assistant special agent with Homeland Security Investigations said it has become difficult for people to discern a real item from a counterfeit one and there are certain items that are more popular to counterfeit than others.

"Cosmetics, electronics and clothing. These are typically what we see in law enforcement as the items that are counterfeited the most," he said.

Officials say counterfeit goods traffickers often have copycat websites mimicking those of legitimate vendors.

Stentz said it's especially important for consumers to be mindful of scams while shopping online.

"If you order it online, it might be some type of substandard material. There are websites out there that are trying to undermine them [shoppers] and they're trying to get them to buy things that are after market items and not what they purport themselves to be," he said.

Stentz said consumers should make sure websites are secure and have the proper website address starting with "https://" when payments are submitted.

Homeland Security Investigations also has the following tips for shoppers:

  • Buy from reputable manufacturers and stores
  • Research online sellers before purchasing and check reviews
  • Don't buy anything advertised via bulk email or SPAM
  • Be suspicious of websites that do not provide a toll-free contact number

They said red flags on suspicious websites are suspect URL's, shoddy designs, no refund policy and bad grammar.

If someone has purchased a counterfeit item, officials suggest trying to return the item to the vendor and also contacting law enforcement.

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