Crime | December 4, 2020 1:19 pm

Customs Intercepts Massive Fake Rolex Shipment Bound for Salt Lake City

1,280 watches, none of them genuine

counterfeit rolex
Fake Rolex watches lay on ground as people wait to watch the destruction of counterfeit and smuggled items in Bangkok, 03 May 2004. AFP PHOTO/ Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)
AFP via Getty Images

Fake watches are far from a new phenomenon; for centuries, enterprising counterfeiters have used any and all means at their disposal to create replicas of high-end watches that can be sold for an appropriately high price. With the rise of 3-D printing, it’s now even easier to create a believable facsimile of a sought-after watch.

This week in Louisville, Customs agents intercepted a substantial shipment of counterfeit Rolex watches that were traveling from Hong Kong to Salt Lake City. A report from local station WTVQ offers more details: the watches were packaged in four separate shipments, each with 320 of the replicas inside.

The total value of the watches, had they been real, is slightly over $25 million.

What ultimately drew the attention of Customs? Issues with the shipments’ manifest, apparently. Customs and Border Patrol agents inspected the packages after the discrepancy was identified, which prompted the revelation of the watches’ counterfeit nature.

This is a significant find by Customs and Border Protection, but it’s only a small drop in the larger economy of counterfeiting. One recent study estimated the total amount of global counterfeiting for 2020 at $1.82 trillion — a sobering look at how vast this economy can be.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.