Federal authorities in the US have seized 1,500 counterfeit handbags made in China carrying the brand of French luxury personal accessories maker Hermes, the Customs and Border Protection force said on Tuesday.
Two separate consignments of fakes were discovered by customs authorities at the Port of Los Angeles on 12 and 26 February.
Genuine Hermes leather bags retail for thousands of dollars each. The two shipments would be together worth $14 million if sold at full price, the US customs agency said.
Import of counterfeit purses and wallets to the US has been on the rise, with a 142-per cent increase in the value of goods seized in 2012 compared with the previous year, the agency said in a statement. The bulk of fake bags seized in 2012 were made in China, it said.
To increase profit margins, counterfeit manufacturers are increasingly turning toward ultra-high-end brands such as Hermes and Fendi, said Jaime Ruiz, an agency spokesman.
The two shipments seized in February were bound for Mexico and a location in the United States, Ruiz said. The companies that were to receive the goods have been warned, but criminal charges typically are pursued only for repeat offenders, he said.