HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — United States Customs and Border Protection sniffed out $344,000 in counterfeit bottles of perfume from a shipment coming into the Port of Houston.

Paula Rivera, chief officer for the Houston field office of the CBP, told CBS Houston that the fraudulent shipment was one of the larger ones caught by officers.

“It’s significant in dollar amount, in the value for the actual trademark holder,” she said. “It’s impeding their revenue, and the customer is not getting the true product.”

The shipment, reportedly originating from India, contained numerous 3.4-ounce bottles of Estee Lauder’s “Sensuous” perfume. According to the beauty product purveyor’s website, a bottle of “Sensuous” costs $78.

There were also bottles of Estee Lauder’s “Flirt” perfume found, according to the CBP. In all, 5,000 bottles were recovered, allegedly on their way to Dallas for distribution and sale.

“CBP officers are actively enforcing trade laws and protecting legitimate business owners and consumers from copyright and trademark infringements,” Judson W. Murdock II, acting Houston director of field operations, said in a release. “When we identify products as counterfeit or confusingly similar, we take the necessary steps to protect the consumer and seize the shipment, preventing criminals from profiting from this type of illegal activity.”

The shipment itself arrived on Jan. 24, but was red-flagged for investigation based on intelligence provided to the CBP before its arrival. On Feb. 21, it was determined to be fraudulent and in violation of federal trademark laws.

In the 2011 fiscal year, counterfeit perfume and cologne production reportedly increased by 471 percent, at a value of $9.4 million.


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