WSVN — Chena Henry wanted to do something special for her son Tony on his birthday. So she bought him these Beats headphones for $150 dollars, money she worked hard to save.
Chena Henry: "I asked twice, yes, I said, 'Are these the real headphones?' They said, 'Yeah, they're the real headphones. We wouldn't sell them if they were fake.'"
But Tony knew his mom didn't get the real deal on the wildly popular headphones.
Chena Henry: I gave him the headphones and at first he's like, 'OK,' and then he looks at them and he's like, 'Thank you, I don't mean to be funny, Mom, but these aren't real.'"
Tony Henry: "Well, I feel good that she thought of me and bought me some headphones, but they're not real. But it's OK."
Chena Henry: "It was heartbreaking because, as a parent, you never want to let down your kids."
Chena had seen this sign advertising the headphones in the window of this Dania Beach store operated by Wireless Future. She says when she asked for a refund, she was told no.
Chena Henry: "And it's not right, because $150 is a lot of money in this day and age."
After she talked with authorities, agents from both Homeland Security Investigations and the Broward Sheriff's Office hit the store. There were no headphones, but agents did find and seize Apple phone cases believed to be counterfeits. And while this may seem small time, major investigations can begin this way.
Jay McNamara: "We've seen a dramatic uprise in counterfeit goods entering the commerce of the United States from other countries abroad."
Jay McNamara of Homeland Security Investigations says some knockoffs are very sophisticated. For example, compare the headphones Chena bought, which are on the right, to another set on the left. Looks pretty clear which are the real ones, right? But not really. These are also counterfeits.
Losses from bogus items like these, which were seized last year, are approaching nearly a billion dollars annually. And it's not just consumer items. Even medicines are being sold to an unsuspecting public.
Jay McNamara: "And we've seen everything — from small groups, local profiteers, individuals trying to sell a handbag at a flea market — to organized crime, New York syndicates involved in the trafficking on a large scale of these counterfeit items."
At the Dania Beach store, initially there were no answers to our questions.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why are you closing up? Did you have counterfeit merchandise here that you've been selling?"
We later reached the executive manager, who says the headphones were bought at a flea market and he thought they were real. He also claimed Chena's set was the only one the store bought. This despite the sign we saw in the window.
Carmel Cafiero: "There's no way to know if the items seized here will result in any further action, but there is a bit of good news. After we talked with the manager, he gave Chena a full refund. Carmel Cafiero, 7 News.
If there's something you think Carmel should investigate, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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