JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A counterfeit bust led by Jacksonville investigators has revealed millions in fake goods being sold to unsuspecting customers.
The Department of Homeland Security tells Action News counterfeit schemes cost businesses about $250 billion a year, and scammers are no longer selling simple tennis shoes and handbags.
"If something seems too good to be true it probably is," says Carissa Cutrell, Public Affiars Officer with the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement Divison.
Cutrell says the buying and selling of counterfeit products online is a big and dangerous business, as proven in the case of Elod Toldy, a Texas businessman who is serving time in prison after customers alerted Jacksonville investigators to an elaborate counterfeit circuit breaker scheme.
"He had an eBay store so any consumer could go to his store, make a purchase, and they thought they were getting an actual circuit breaker."
Toldy ordered generic breakers from China, and replaced the tags by hand. He then marketed them as brand-name products and sold them at 80 percent off the regular price.
"You wouldn't want that in your house because circuit breakers control electricity, and you don't know what a counterfeit one would do. We don't know how they were made, how they were manufactured, and if they're doing what they intended to do."
Cutrell says the counterfeit breakers were shipped to customers all over the country, and put them all at risk. The department has made efforts to notify them of the counterfeit goods and the dangers they pose.
Toldy was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison, and was ordered to pay his victims close to $60,000 in damages.
If you think you're the victim of a counterfeit scheme, call 888-DHS-2-ICE to report. Consumers are not held responsible for purchasing products they believed to be real.