Customs officials seize fake socks worth $2.6M and bound for Loudoun Co.

Federal customs officials have seized more than 165,000 pairs of sham diabetic socks destined for an address in Loudoun County, Virginia, with a list price totaling more than $2.6 million.

The seizure of 694 boxes at the port of Norfolk-Newport News, made July 29 and announced Tuesday, marks the second time in less than a month that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have intervened to stop a bulk shipment of counterfeit cotton diabetic socks bound for Northern Virginia from abroad.



“Diabetic socks are an unusual product to counterfeit, but Customs and Border Protection officers realize that bad actors will counterfeit anything that lines their greedy pockets with illicit proceeds, regardless of any potential harm their products will cause their customers,” Mark Laria, the agency’s Norfolk-Newport News area port director, said in a news release.

“We remain committed to intercepting counterfeit and potentially dangerous consumer goods, and we strongly encourage consumers to protect themselves and their families by purchasing goods only from reputable vendors.”

A shipment of counterfeit, Hugh Ugoli-branded socks that Customs and Border Protection says was seized in Virginia in early July. (Courtesy CBP)

The Hugh Ugoli-branded socks arrived from Turkey in boxes that bore an unauthorized “Seal of Cotton” trademark, the agency said. CBP specialists contacted Cotton Inc. — the nonprofit organization that issues the seal based on cotton quality assessments — and determined the products to be inauthentic.

All 694 packages were confiscated. Had they all been sold at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price as legitimate products, the socks would have been valued at more than $2.6 million.

“Diabetic socks are specialty socks that are nonelastic to reduce pressure and swelling, that eliminate friction that may cause discomfort, and that help keep the patient’s foot dry,” CBP explained. “Any level of substandard manufacturing may seriously endanger the health and well-being of diabetic patients.”

It was the second such seizure of diabetic socks in less than two weeks: Norfolk-Newport News port officials intercepted a similar shipment earlier in July, also headed to an undisclosed address in Loudoun County from Turkey.

No one has been criminally charged, the agency said Tuesday, adding that an investigation into the fraudulent socks is ongoing.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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