Did you buy Nike sneakers online? Here’s how to spot the fakes from the real ones

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DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) — A Danville mother who paid more than 50% above retail price for a popular pair of sneakers suspects she may have purchased counterfeit Nikes. Federal authorities are warning that the problem may be more common than you think.

They say the amount of counterfeit goods seized each year exceeded $1 billion in the latest report from authorities. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

Jessica Brillant examines a pair of Nikes purchased online.

As soon as she took them out of the box, her son pointed them out.

“He was looking at them and he was kind of like, ‘Mom, I think, I’m not quite sure. This kind of stuff looks fake,'” Brilliant said.

She found several videos on YouTube telling consumers how to tell fake Nikes from real ones. The problem of counterfeits is apparently so widespread that these videos have hundreds of thousands of views.

RELATED: $900,000 in counterfeit bills seized from shipping container in Minnesota

They advise looking at the stitching and embroidery and if you find any flaws, it’s probably a fake.

“It’s a little hard to see, but there are these seams here on the heels, they’re not evenly spaced,” Brillant told 7 On Your Side.

Holding the shoes under a black light at home, she says she found more trouble.

“When you shine the black light, you can see die-cut lines — UV die-cut lines — where the black leather should line up,” Shine said.

Homeland Security investigations cannot confirm that his shoes are fake. But they offered to review it and confirm that defects in quality and workmanship are good indicators that something may be counterfeit.

“The most telling feature of these counterfeit Nikes is the quality, isn’t it? The seams are broken,” said Tatum King of Homeland Security Investigations.

RELATED: What Are the Most Common Counterfeit Products Online and How to Protect Yourself

Federal authorities seize more athletic shoes than any other counterfeit item, with the exception of handbags and wallets, which top the list and are followed by clothing and accessories.

The latest statistics show that in fiscal year 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized $1.3 billion worth of counterfeits.

“You should care about that, number one, because you want to buy quality. If you’re spending your hard-earned money, especially now in a tough economic environment, you want to make sure you’re buying a product that lasts,” said King.

Shiny says she tried to return the shoes for a full refund, but the website refused to accept the return three times.

With the help of 7 On Your Side, she received a refund from her credit card company.

Now she has a pair of what she calls “free knockoffs.”

“The arch support hurts, so they’re definitely not built the same,” Brilliant said.

US Customs and Border Protection tell us that the counterfeiters have gotten pretty good, but the manufacturers have shared proprietary information with them to help officers identify counterfeits. They advise you to buy only from websites you know and trust.

Check out more stories and videos from Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Do you have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!
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