US customs seize shipment of knockoff AirPods from China

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Seized AirPods knockoffs
Knockoffs were discovered by Pittsburgh Customs and Border Protection officers.
Photo: Pittsburgh Customs and Border Protection

Pittsburgh Customs and Border Protection officers seized a shipment of counterfeit AirPods and lightning charging cables over the weekend. The unauthorized knockoffs were part of a much larger collection of thousands of counterfeit goods — including 4,212 fake Roku remotes.

The quantity of AirPods and lightning charger knockoffs was significantly smaller than that. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, there were 120 items “resembling” the popular Apple products discovered in the shipment.

These items arrived in nine shipments from Hong Kong. On an average day, officers in the U.S. reportedly seize around $4.3 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations.

AirPods and beyond: Apple’s knockoffs problem

Apple has long had problems with counterfeit components and accessory knockoffs. Many of these come from China, which still accounts for the majority of Apple’s manufacturing. These counterfeit devices are distinct from third-party options, which work with Apple products but are entirely legitimate. Instead, counterfeit goods try and make themselves out to be official Apple goods. Often they look almost identical, and may even come from the same production lines — often in the form of discarded components that did not measure up in terms of quality.

Apple is well aware of the problem. Last year, it rewarded police officers in South Korea for their work cracking down on almost $1 million worth of fake accessories. These too were imported from China.

Apple hosts a dedicated webpage for anyone who thinks they might have been counterfeit products. This allows you to submit photos and other details to Apple so that it can help crack down on counterfeit products. Not only can these be of low quality, but in some cases they may even prove to be dangerous.