Homeland Security launching crackdown on counterfeit contacts, makeup in time for Halloween

Updated: Oct. 16, 2019 at 7:25 PM CDT
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PEARL, Miss. (WLBT) - It's just over two weeks from Halloween, and Homeland Security Investigations is warning you about a dangerous trick.

The federal agency is conducting a major crackdown on things you may use when dressing up for the ghoulish holiday.

HSI doesn't want you to be tricked by some dangerous counterfeit items when purchasing your costume for Halloween.

A major safety threat is fake contact lenses.

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tim Meadows is assigned to the Jackson area.

He said the contact lenses are often made in China and contain bacteria and can be contaminated with lead and other toxins.

The agency is also targeting the makeup and cosmetics that are sold to accent costumes.

“You have to have a prescription to get contact lenses, so if you’re buying a contact lens from some beauty store it’s not gonna be regulated,” said Meadows. “You put something in your eye that can do some severe damage to your eyes."

With the Christmas season approaching, HSI is concentrating on taking counterfeit goods off the streets.

Agents have confiscated about 100 items from fake designer purses to apparel in the Jackson metro area.

If a vendor sells an item valued at hundreds for much less, chances are it’s fake.

“When it comes to black markets and being sold counterfeit goods, you’re depriving the U.S. citizens out of jobs, the American people out of the revenue from under valuing the objects. They’re not paying as much tariffs on them. Again, that’s money for the U.S.,” added the special agent.

Beware this holiday season when buying from flea markets, tent vendors and pop-up shops in vacant shopping centers.

Vendors who sell fake items can be charged with trafficking counterfeit goods and trademark piracy. They can face a 10 year federal prison sentence for each count if convicted.

To report counterfeit merchandise, Contact Homeland Security Investigations on their Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or www.ice.gov/tipline or locally call 601-933-7400.

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