In a recent bust at Washington Dulles International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 36 phony guitars. The items had a suggested retail price of $158,692.
The fakes arrived Dec. 15 from China in 36 separate shipments. The imitations targeted iconic models, including 27 Gibson, six Fender, two Martin, and one Paul Reed Smith guitars. Two of the instruments were acoustic guitars.
The pirates also targeted rare collectibles. Many of the Gibsons were part of the beloved Les Paul series. In addition, one of the axes was purportedly autographed by Slash. The most expensive item was a Gibson Ace Frehley guitar, with a suggested retail price of $9,000. The apprehended cargo even included a Jimmy Page Gibson Double Neck, one of the most legendary guitars in rock history.
According to Keith Fleming, CBP’s Acting Director of Field Operations in Baltimore, counterfeiting is big business. In a statement for the CBP, Fleming noted, “Transnational criminal organizations will counterfeit anything that generates illicit revenues, and unscrupulous vendors line their pockets by preying on unsuspecting consumers.”
ROCKING THE NIGHT AWAY
On January 20, CBP officers at @Dulles_Airport seized 36 counterfeit brand name guitars, like Gibson and Fender, that if authentic, would have had an MSRP of $158,692.
— CBP (@CBP) February 10, 2021
CBP investigators flagged the cargo, which was destined for 21 states and Australia. After that, CBP investigators worked with trademark holders to confirm the instruments were frauds. Officers completed a seizure of the collection Jan. 20.
The CBP has not found other guitars since the bust. Their report notes that the agency typically catches $4.3 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations each day.
This isn’t the first time counterfeiters have gone after name-brand guitars. According to the CBP, a 2014 bust turned up 185 knockoffs targeting other retailers, including Epiphone, Taylor and Ernie Ball. That collection had a suggested retail price of over $1 million.