By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN
(CNN) — US customs officers seized a shipment from India that contained a counterfeit version of an extremely rare watch.
Had it been a real Richard Mille time piece, it would have been worth over $3.78 million, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said.
Watches and jewelry are the most commonly counterfeited items that are seized by customs officers, CBP Chicago, which oversees operations throughout most of the Midwest, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter), so it came as no surprise to agents when they found the watch.
The item’s estimated price tag and its rarity are perhaps the most shocking aspects of the November 16 seizure by CPB officers in Cincinnati.
The shipment originated in India and was headed to a home in Palm Beach, Florida, the agency said.
The seized watch was a RM 88 Automatic Winding Tourbillon Smiley replica, CBP said. This particular style is a limited edition and there are only 50 watches like it in the world, hence the hefty price tag.
“Black market sellers attempted to reproduce the look-alike Richard Mille RM 88 Smiley, but it takes one glimpse at the merchandise to know it’s a fake,” the agency said. “The packaging, lack of fine details, its originating country and the fact that the shipment was uninsured all aided the officer’s determination that the merchandise was a counterfeit.”
The French company makes a little over 5,000 watches a year, each costing on average $250,000, according to Bloomberg.
“CBP encourages honest trade and urges consumers to think twice before purchasing merchandise from unfamiliar online entities,” Cincinnati Port Director Alrick Brooks said in a news release. “Purchasing counterfeit goods enables criminal enterprises, and the profits made from these items fund their illicit activities.”
Following the seizure of the Richard Mille replica, officers intercepted a second shipment the next day originating in Hong Kong and bound for Mesquite, Texas, CBP said.
Inside were replicas aping Rolex, Van Cleef, Chanel and Louis Vuitton watches to name a few, according to the agency.
The total manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the watches and jewelry seized was $846,695, CBP said.
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