The Trump administration pledged Friday to step up efforts against the vast amounts of counterfeit clothing, medicine and other goods that have flooded into the U.S. in increasing waves with the rise in e-commerce.
Customs and Border Patrol would subject online retailers, including the growing number of third-party sales that have proliferated on major online platforms, and warehouse operators to increased scrutiny and potential penalties under measures announced by Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
The department also vowed to apply fines and penalties to a broader range of participants in e-commerce and to look for additional ways to interfere with fraudulent commerce.
Homeland Security views counterfeits as both an economic threat and a potential danger to public health because of online sales of fake pharmaceuticals and cosmetics with adulterated ingredients.
The measures announced Friday are a follow-up to a memorandum signed in April by President Donald Trump in which he pledged to rein in the sale of counterfeit products on sites such as Amazon, eBay and Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba.
At the time, Amazon said in response that it prohibits the sale of counterfeit products and welcomed more coordinated support from law enforcement to stem the problem. The company said in 2018 that it spent more than $400 million fighting counterfeit products, fraud and other forms of abuse.
China agreed to combat patent theft and counterfeit products, which would include forfeiting machinery used for making counterfeit products, as part of the Phase 1 trade agreement it signed with the United States earlier this month.