14-10-2015

French customs destroy large shipment of counterfeits

Working with customs and police is one of the ways SKF combats the illegal trade in counterfeit bearings. Every seizure, regardless of size, puts a dent into the counterfeit trade. In July SKF supported French customs to seize two full cargo containers of counterfeit SKF bearings and housings, which subsequently were destroyed.

In the peak of Swedish summer holidays in July 2015, SKFs anti-counterfeiting unit was contacted by French customs. They had stopped a suspected shipment - two containers of bearings and housings. SKF needed to verify the suspect goods and formally reply to customs within 10 days.

This case was different from others customs stops, as it was several tones in size, containing more than 60 different product types - large size bearings, housings and y-bearings. Responding in a timely fashion is key for the cooperation and trust of the authorities, and SKF replied within 24h to French customs with an initial declaration that the sample pictures provided indeed showed counterfeit goods, and followed up with a detailed verification.

A first-hand experience of the destruction

After the goods were formally declared as counterfeit, French customs scheduled them for destruction in September. SKF were invited to be present at the destruction, and SKF France Communication Director personally visited Le Havre to see the disposal of the counterfeits: 

“It was an impressive experience. So many different types. From huge housings to small bearings. I had to remind myself of the fact these were NOT genuine goods being destroyed, but counterfeit products: they look so much the same! Customs were very grateful to SKF for being present, and for the support in their daily struggle against counterfeit trade.”, said SKF France Communication Director.

The counterfeits seen in the market today, have a very close visual resemblance to genuine products and packaging, and it is virtually impossible for a customer to tell the difference. The performance of the counterfeit products however, is very unreliable, and can pose a risk to machinery and operations. For users, the best way to safeguard against counterfeit supply, is to source from authorized sources such as Antifriction Components.

A new lead in Spain – all seizures are valuable

In recent times SKF have seen an increase in small counterfeit shipments sent by airfreight. This has become more common in cases where customers are looking for rare and hard to find items. Often the shipments are below 100kg, but even a small shipment can give valuable leads to authorities and brand owners. If the importing company is a final customer or end-user, which often have been tricked by the exporter, SKF will inform the user of the risks involved, and guide them to trusted sources of genuine supply. If the importing company is a retailer or trader, that could distribute the counterfeit goods in the market, SKF will contact respective country’s authorities. They could then choose to initiate investigations and conduct search and seizures at the importers premises, and confiscate any additional counterfeit goods found. The importer could face potential criminal charges.

In the recent French case, the shipment was of several tons, was shipped by sea, and included several bearing brands. After the formal process was completed by French customs, SKF and other brand owners were informed that this was a transit shipment, with final destination in Spain. The Spanish importer was a non-authorized distributor in Bilbao, and as there could be more counterfeit goods in their premises, SKF alerted the Spanish authorities about the seizure in France. As a result, several brand owners were asked to support Spanish police on a raid against the importer in Spain. During this raid, more counterfeit products were seized, and police learnt that the distributor was not only selling to the local market, but also exporting goods outside Spain. As we have seen in the past, counterfeits can be traded in many steps before reaching the final user, and SKF is actively working with authorities to tackle the spread of counterfeit goods.

Antifriction Components are proud Authorized Distributors of SKF and many other Leading Brands, contact us to make sure you are getting genuine bearings and not risking your machinery and operations with counterfeit products.