Online shoppers warned to beware of counterfeit goods on popular sites

Credit: CBS News
Credit: CBS News(WCTV)
Published: Jul. 23, 2018 at 3:35 PM EDT
Email this link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
By: CBS News

July 23, 2018

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (CBS) -- Federal investigators say counterfeit goods are flowing into the United States through some of the biggest e-commerce websites.

In a recent investigation, the Government Accountability Office purchased dozens of items from third-party sellers on sites like Amazon and Walmart. They found 20 out of 47 were counterfeit.

"Absolutely, consumers are at risk and that's why we say buyer beware," said David Abbate with Homeland Security Investigations:

Abbate showed off plenty of confiscated counterfeit goods, many of them are items that could harm or even kill you, like a fake surge protector, counterfeit brake pads, fake air bags and even a knockoff overhead sprinkler. Authorities are also seeing plenty of counterfeit prescription drugs, everything from Viagra to cancer drugs and painkillers.

"It's coming in. It's usually coming from China and it may or may not be what the consumer thinks it is. And if you're ingesting something that you don't know what it is or against doctors' orders, it could be very harmful," Abbate said.

Companies like Apple have sued third-party sellers for hocking counterfeit goods. And those e-commerce sites listed in the government report say they have a zero-tolerance policy for counterfeits.

"The biggest and basic issue is if it looks too good to be true, it probably is," Abbate said.

Officials say if you want to make sure you are getting the real thing, you should buy directly from the manufacturer and avoid third-party sellers.

To view the full report,